The new Tehran Bureau is a platform that aims to delve deeply into Iran and a range of related topics. We have moved away from daily news publishing toward a more in-depth model to reveal Iran’s culture and inner workings. In doing so, we alternate between hard-hitting, investigative data journalism and more interpretive pieces, each conceived as a potential building block for an entire book. The mission throughout is to pursue a deeper understanding of the country and its people—both in the past and in the present.
In this second issue we turn to Paris, which has been a secular haven for generations of Iranians. It’s played host to many politicians across the ideological spectrum. Ayatollah Khomeini famously set up operations in the Paris suburb of Neauphle-le-Château in 1978. After the revolution, the MKO, Marxist activists, monarchists, republican nationalists, and independent leftist and progressive factions all established themselves in and around Paris. “Mapping out the groups of political exiles active against the Islamic Republic is like trying to describe a perpetually moving kaleidoscope of changing political patterns and colours,” wrote Annabelle Sreberny-Mohammadi and Ali Mohammadi in 1987.
Since the latter half of the nineteenth century, the comings and goings of kings, artists, and wanderers brought bits of France into our culture. In the Iranian imagination, France, unlike the British and Russian empires, was the “benign colonial power.” From my great-grandmother’s bistro chairs to the names of my grandfather’s heart ailments, France inspired our aesthetics and our constitution, and it was the premier destination for training in technology and modern medicine. Join us as we explore a few of Iranian culture’s many connections with the City of Light.
—Kelly Golnoush Niknejad, Editor in Chief