Iranian citizens do not feel safe in their homeland

Iranian citizens do not feel safe in their homeland

Iranian citizens do not feel safe in their homeland
Iranian citizens, believe that the regime’s policies at the local and regional levels have caused poverty, unemployment. (AFP)
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People must feel safe and secure if societies are to progress and remain stable. These two factors allow individuals to focus on the contributions or services they can provide to aid the success of their homeland, hence contributing to global human production.
Conversely, people feeling that there is no safety or security affects a society in multiple ways. Countries suffering from civil wars or foreign aggression are well aware of the value of safety and security — as a result of their absence. They work tirelessly, in every way possible, to achieve personal and social security. The matter becomes more complicated when a society feels there is no safety and security while state and government institutions present themselves as a model for fostering safety and security, alleging that they contribute to achieving these key factors in the geographic vicinity that they control — as is the case with the Iranian model.
With robberies and crime increasing, Iranians are buying arms to defend themselves, according to Javan newspaper. Firearm possession without a license is a crime in Iran. Buying weapons illegally is the only possible way to access them for self-defense. Some Iranians seek to buy firearms online, regardless of the difficulties they face. The newspaper’s editor wrote: “When I was speaking to a phone number supposedly belonging to an ad for purchasing a Browning pistol, the seller claimed he lives in one of the cities west of the country and from there he sells pistols all over the country.  When it comes to the way of obtaining the firearms and transferring the money, criminals get one step closer to their objective. The person with whom I spoke said that he would get a million tomans beforehand and 24 million tomans when taking delivery of the weapon. The important issue about these cases is the depositing of the upfront sum in a hired bank account provided by the seller to the purchaser. As soon as the money is deposited into the account, sellers no longer answer the purchaser’s calls. This means the criminal (the weapon’s seller) has achieved his end and the purchaser can do nothing. He can’t lodge a complaint since he is well aware that he would be tried on charges of purchasing weapons. Therefore, they decide to forget about the upfront sum they had paid.”
Given this clear example of financial risk, why are Iranian citizens still willing to risk their hard-earned money to access firearms? The Global Peace Index ranked Iran 141st out of 163 countries in the world in 2022, indicating that Iranian society has a low sense of security. According to the Iranian newspaper Shargh, the number of killings has surged in the past year. Brig. Gen. Mohammed Ghanbari, chief of the Criminal Investigation Administration in Sistan-Baluchistan province, recorded 543 deaths in 44 days, averaging 12 deaths per day between March 16, 2022, and April 28, 2022.
The theft rate, on the other hand, surged by 340 percent in the five years from 2016 to 2021. It reached over 1.4 million incidents in 2021, with several reports made concerning the theft of sewage channel covers, electricity and communications cables, and traffic signs. For its part, the fundamentalist newspaper Javan said in February 2017 that Iranian citizens possessed more than 3 million weapons.
In 2015, according to a national study on the social, cultural, and moral conditions of Iranian society, only around 52 percent of respondents said they felt secure in society. The aforementioned opinion poll demonstrates the extent to which moral norms in society have deteriorated in the eyes of its citizens. About 72 percent said that lying was prevalent in society, 65 percent believed that hypocrisy and putting on a show of piety prevailed in society, 68 percent said fraud and deceit were common, while 66 percent mentioned flattery and false gushing of praise were used as a means of persuasion. Meanwhile, up to 52 percent suggested mistrust was commonplace, and 55 percent complained about the prevalence of usury in society.

The Iranian regime has a definition of security that is different from that of its citizens.

Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami

According to sociologist Amir Mahmoud Harirchi, one out of every three Iranians suffers from depression and mental disorders. Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei, head of the Iranian judiciary, has acknowledged that the stealing of bags and mobile phones endangers personal and societal security, and that Iranians are now concerned about it.
For its part, Iran newspaper, a mouthpiece for the Iranian government, said in a report titled, “I am afraid of this street,” that there is a growing sense of insecurity. It is rampant, according to the newspaper, which cited cases of insecurity on the streets for various reasons, including the theft of mobile phones and bags by motorcyclists, who maintain a huge presence in the capital Tehran.
Moreover, some robbers attack their victims using sharp objects, inflicting major wounds. The newspaper also said that these matters led those attacked to shun public spaces as much as possible. Their psychological condition has been significantly affected, leading them to visit psychiatrists. Yet the newspaper added that “if we ourselves didn’t experience such attacks, we know people who have gone through this bitter experience. Meanwhile, the Iranian authorities detain social media users on charges of posting inappropriate content and promoting unfounded and undocumented allegations which lead to spreading psychological insecurity in society.”
The Iranian regime has a definition of security that is different from that of its citizens. The regime believes that military force and weapons are essential for fostering societal security — justifying its failures at various levels under the pretext of maintaining security. Moreover, the regime considers its military intervention in Syria and in other parts of the region, as well as its squandering of Iranian funds, as essential to provide security for the country.
Iranian citizens, conversely, believe that the regime’s policies at the local and regional levels have caused poverty, unemployment, inflation and capital flight from the country. In addition, they believe that the fear of arrest due to lifestyle choices, the wearing of inappropriate outfits and the expression of opinions is also a reason for feeling insecure. Feeling insecure, added to other reasons, has prompted millions of Iranians to flee the country since the revolution, sparking a recent rise in immigration rates. This shows there is an increasing level of insecurity. Iranian officials blame the media, accusing the country’s enemies of defaming Iran and depicting a false picture to the world of the country lacking security. Girls are feeling insecure for various reasons, including the acid attacks that began years ago, and the recent cases of poisonings of schoolgirls. The new bill that imposes more restrictions when it comes to wearing the hijab has heightened the sense of insecurity among Iranian women.
To conclude, we have shed light on the incidents experienced by Iranian citizens and their feeling of insecurity at the individual and societal levels. The political and security apparatuses in Iran have failed to address this growing problem, paying it nearly no attention. Yet, the continuation of incidents such as robberies and theft will create more complicated social problems. In light of the shift in Iranian foreign policy and the Tehran regime presenting a proposal to create a maritime security body in the Arabian Gulf, will the Iranian leadership now pay attention to this deepening security challenge internally? One will have to wait and see if it prioritizes the domestic front over the regional one in the coming period.

Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami is the founder and president of the International Institute for Iranian Studies (Rasanah).
Twitter: @mohalsulami

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