While most people are familiar with the political tension between Iran and the United States, the world knows very little about the daily lives of Iranian children and adults. However, we are given a unique glimpse into the lives of Iranians and their culture through the lens of ABC World News Journalist Muhammad Lila. He was on the streets of Iran capturing the culture and talking with Iranians and his photographs and observations are part of an interactive blog.
While we can't sit at a table and directly share our thoughts with Iranians, ABC World News provided us with a unique webpage and first hand accounts were offered. Jon Williams, Managing Editor of International News, ABC News, explains the decision for creating this type of interactive blog and a landing page which includes multiple levels of coverage. "The starting point for this was the change in leadership and change in tone coming from Iran over recent months."
There seems to be a notable shift in the way Iran's government leaders view their citizens. Recently, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif brought a new perspective to politics when he quoted a poet saying, "We need to wash our eyes and see differently."
ABC World News Journalist Muhammad Lila also noticed this new approach. He says, "There's a genuine spirit of openness around Tehran these days. It's not to say that Iranians haven't been open in the past. It's always been a hospitable and welcoming culture. The difference now is that they have a president who wants Iranians to engage with the world, and the west, in a meaningful way. Whether it's Facebook, or Twitter, or asking religious police to police themselves before others, people are hopeful that he can usher in a new period where Iranians have the space to express themselves more freely, and in return, see the world in a different way."
Also different is the way in which female reporters are taking the lead. On the ABC blog, there is a snapshot of Farida, a female television reporter. Lila notes, "Anecdotally, the women clearly outnumbered the men at last week's (photograph of Farida was posted on the blog on October 29, 2013) foreign minister brief. Ratio was close to 2:1. It was noticeable right away. They were better prepared and asked the most hard- hitting questions. The male journalists seemed meek in comparison."
Lila also noted that female journalists are taking on their role as journalists with a sense of purpose. They are reporting on issues that matter. Lila says, "When we spoke with one of them (Farideh) outside, she insisted she was free to report on whatever she wanted, and that she took up journalism as a way to help make her country better. "
The reporter was also quick to point out that even though she wears a black chador, with modern jeans beneath, it makes, "zero difference in her, or the ability of other Iranian women, to work in the media and for their voices to be heard."
The photographs reveal how citizens spend their leisure time. There is one photograph of a young female adult playing classical violin. Another photograph shows a fifteen-year-old male who says that he listens to heavy metal and his favorite song is about peace. Street art is captured in several snapshots and one street artist says, "It's our way of communicating directly with people."
These voices which were once a whisper, or even silenced, are the ones that are creating and shaping a new Iran. You can share your own voice by joining in the social media page listed below with #InsideIran and contact ABC World News Journalist at @MuhammadLila or simply view the website to learn more about Iranian's citizens and their culture.
To view the ABC News Inside Iran go here http://http://liveblog.abcnews.go.com/Event/Inside_Iran