How Do The Rich Kids Of Tehran Get Away With Their Extravagance?

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Iran After The Shah

Iran’s far right never missed an opportunity to criticize the Shah during his time as Iran’s leader. The Shah headed a secular government that the leaders in the religious community absolutely detested. They saw the Shah as a puppet of the West, and the materialistic nature of the upper echelons of Iranian society offended them.

The elites’ lavish lifestyle also upset others in Iran. There was great wealth disparity in Iran at the time, and the poor resented the ostentatious shows of affluence coming from the Iranian nouveau riche. 

The Islamic Revolution of 1979 in Iran was supposed to change society for the better. The revolutionary leaders convinced the masses that they would make the system fair and extend economic opportunity to all people.  This hasn’t exactly been the case. Poverty is still a huge problem in Iran.

The Rick Kids Of Tehran

The recent emergence of the Rich Kids of Tehran on the internet has only increased resentment from those on the lower rungs of Iranian society. The internet sensation confirmed what many poor Iranians already thought – there is a wealthy elite class that is immune from Islamic Law and free to do as they please without fear of repercussions from the Ayatollah’s thought police.

rich-tehr4Image Source: Treloko

In September 2014, The Rich Kids of Tehran became a popular group to follow on Facebook. The group consisted of young twenty-something Iranians that would post photos of themselves sitting in mansions, drinking alcohol, partying in tiny bathing suites, and driving expensive sports cars.

In a little over a month, the page had 95,000 followers. Drinking alcohol is in direct violation of Islamic law and it is banned in Iran. Even more shocking, the young women are pictured in revealing bikinis and without their headscarves. Most women in Iran would do serious jail time for these types of offenses.

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Somehow, these Rich Kids of Tehran avoid prosecution. Most of these young people are the sons and daughters of high-ranking military officials and powerful business men. In other words, they are untouchable. They have created problems for the Ayatollah’s government. Iran is supposed to be a nation of modest and humble religious people. There are laws in place to punish those that go against this image.

Just last year, six young Iranians were incarcerated for six months and given 90 lashes for videoing themselves dancing to Pharrell’s popular song, Happy. These young people did not come from the same class as The Rich Kids of Tehran, and the government dealt with them based on their socioeconomic status.

The Rich Kids of Tehran claimed that their motivations were pure, and that they did not wish to offend anyone. In a post of their page, they said:

We Love our city of Tehran. We are not trying to put a difference between rich and poor. We intend to show the world how beautiful Tehran and their people are. The Middle East is always negative attention and we are just showing that Tehran is not like that. This page is in no way political and we never had bad intentions. We never thought the page would make world headlines. Some people featured in this Instagram account don’t live in Iran.”

The Poor Kids Of Tehran

poor-kidsImage Source: Timesofisrael

The post did little to appease those on the political right that believed the kids were ruining Iran’s image. It did even less to reassure those on the left who believe that economic inequality is a huge problem in Iran. A group on the left even started a Poor Kids of Tehran Facebook page, and posted photos of children living in abject poverty on the streets of Tehran.

The Ayatollah’s Culture Ministry shut down The Rich Kids of Tehran late last year. The government provided no explanation, but one has to assume that they did not want their regime to be compared with that of the Shah. It’s a little too late for that, however, and many social justice advocates in Iran are calling for a new movement to close the devastating gap between the rich and poor in Iran.

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