I am wondering how’s life in Iran following many reports that I’d read mentioning about smuggler, black market, sanction for Tehran’s nuclear program and the like.

The Independent reported 10 very surprising things about Iran.

1. Art-house Iranian films by such directors as Abbas Kiarostami and Mohsen Makhmalbaf wow foreign audiences.

2. Muslims are allowed to enter into temporary marriages with each other, sometimes lasting only a few hours. Critics say this in effect legalises prostitution, and women who enter into these sigheh contracts are often ostracised. But the practice is defended as a legal loophole to provide inheritance rights for children who would otherwise be born out of wedlock.

3. More than 3,600 Iranians have been killed in the past 25 years fighting heroin smugglers and the government has permitted radical measures to tackle the problem, including methadone programmes and syringe hand-outs to prevent the spread of disease.

4. Transsexuals are permitted to have sex-change operations in Iran by the decree of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

5. According to the UNHCR, Iran hosts more than one million foreign refugees – more than any other country on earth. Most of these are Afghans and Iraqi Kurds, who fled their countries during the 1980s and ’90s.

6. While official dress codes are very strict, many young Iranians delight in pushing back the boundaries of what is acceptable. Teenage girls in Tehran wear the most vestigial of see-through headscarves and tight overcoats that barely cover the bottom.

7. Skiing is a major pastime in mountainous parts of Iran, but football remains the most popular sport.

8. Iran has one of the only condom factories in the Middle East, and actively encourages contraception as a means of family planning.

9. Satellite television is banned in Iran, but receiver dishes sit in plain view on top of many houses. The most popular channels are run by Iranians based in Los Angeles, who broadcast Iranian pop music and a steady stream of anti-regime propaganda

10. Iran is one of the world’s biggest producers of luxury foods.

Let me add few others:

1. It is one of the many paradoxes of the Islamic Republic of Iran that this most virulent anti-Israeli country supports by far the largest Jewish population of any Muslim country.

2. There is a Jewish representative in the Iranian parliament and there is a Jewish library with 20,000 titles, its reading room decorated with a photograph of the Ayatollah Khomeini.

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