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Persepolis, 2000. Photo by Bikem Ekberzade

Persepolis, 2000. Photo by Bikem Ekberzade

From Persepolis to a State of Islam…

Word on the street was that the date commemorating Khomeini’s death would also mark the beginning of the second revolution. It didn’t matter whether the rumors were true or not, what mattered was that they were even there. People seemed to be fed up with the restrictions imposed on them by the Islamist regime. “Now,” they said, “it is time to turn the tables.”

Shiraz, Iran in 2000. Photo by Bikem Ekberzade

Shiraz, Iran in 2000. Photo by Bikem Ekberzade

Students in Tehran were on the streets demonstrating against the spiritual leader, Khameini, and closing down of the liberal newspapers. South in Shiraz, 13 people, mostly Iranian Jews, were being prosecuted for espionage. “It is about time things changed,” people were whispering on the streets of Tehran. In Isfahan when the pastars stopped people and criticized their garb, it was not intimidated looks they received anymore, they were being scolded, at the very least frowned upon fearlessly by the locals.

The market in Esfahan. Year 2000. Photo by Bikem Ekberzade

The market in Esfahan. Year 2000. Photo by Bikem Ekberzade

This time around winds of change in Iran seemed stronger than ever. Would the tables turn? What would it take for them to? What did freedom mean for Iranians? Was there any idea of or craving for it left after decades of Sheria rule? How strong was Khameini? How determined were Khatami’s reforms? It was these questions and many others I was seeking answers for when I first travelled to Iran in May 2000. I found some of the answers, yes, but what more I found was color, cultural diversity and the human spirit in this much shunned and little understood country…

Esfahan, Iran in 2000. Photo by Bikem Ekberzade

Isfahan, Iran in 2000. Photo by Bikem Ekberzade

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