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Everyday Life in Iran and Iraq
.... The threat of weapons of mass destruction, and of Islamic terrorism spreading fast around the world, overshadows the fact that many Muslims support neither while they struggle for their "normal" lives in Iraq and Iran. 

This "normality", so different from ours, has been shaped by years of war, decades of despotism, and almost 1,500 years of looking for solace in the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed. This lecture presents  regular life of common people in these two countries. This presentation is a rare opportunity to catch a glimpse of societies so often misunderstood by outsiders and the media.

While Saddam Hussein enjoyed his palaces, including the one built on the hills of ancient Babylon, many of his people lived in slums of Baghdad. 

For some people living in the marshes of the South life has not changed for thousands of years: they still live in reed houses and fish is a big part of their diet. 

.... The embargo stopped export of foreign cars to Iraq (except for Saddam, his cronies, and the U.N. representatives) so smart Iraqis built their own using old engines and a lot of imagination. This wooden car served as a bus in the southern city of Basra. 

Both the Shia and the Sunni of Iraq and Iran visit holy places of Islam regardless of their differences. Najaf, the holy shrine of the Fourth Caliph and the First Imam, Ali, is a place where everyone wants to be buried. According to the Shia beliefs, whoever is laid to rest in the ground of the Najaf Shrine will go straight to the Paradise. In the meantime, all mosques and shrines, which are places for praying and many other rituals, are also used as locations for family and social gatherings. Here, women visiting the Kadhimain Shrine in Baghdad enjoy newest gossip and many laughs at the expense of their husbands.

In Iran, under theocratic rule of mullahs and ayatollahs, modern music and dancing are officially forbidden. However, most people ignore such restrictions even in public places, like this restaurant in Tehran, where talented musicians and singers perform popular Iranian and Western hits. 

Living in Tehran or in other big cities of Iran one may wish that someone would impose an embargo on importing cars to Iran. The highest number of traffic accidents in the world is consistently recorded in Iran where passing a street in Tehran is seemingly an impossible task: cars, trucks, buses, and motorcycles never stop to give you a second to sneak in between them. Thus, you have only two choices: either you spend all your time waiting for someone to have pity for you and let you cross the street (be prepared that, by that time, your visa would expire) or close your eyes, move forward, and keep praying. 

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