Foreign journalists in Iran to cover the fate of the American hostages held at the United States Embassy in Teheran are being offered guided tours of the city and its environs.
Foreign journalists in Iran to cover the fate of the American hostages held at the United States Embassy in Teheran are being offered guided tours of the city and its environs. The tours are designed to show what the new government sees as the excesses of the former Shah.
SYNOPSIS: The latest tour took a crowd of foreign newsmen to the Shah's Niavaran Palace, in the east of Teheran. It is an impressive building, one of several used by the Shah and members of his family during his years of reign.
The new regime has been careful to preserve the finest building and treasures. But many objects- furniture, carpets, ornaments and pictures, - have been gathered together and sold. The money, or some of it, has been distributed to the poor. A special body called the Mostasafyn Foundation co-ordinates the collection of items, their sale and the distribution of the proceeds.
It is not just the Shah's property which is being appropriated by the state. Many of the houses and businesses of rich Iranians who have fled the country since the revolution have been taken over, and the contents sold.
The new government says its aim is to spread the wealth of Iran more evenly among the country's 35 million people, most of whom still live in the slums. The new regime says the Shah was interested only in providing for the rich, while the poorest were left without proper sanitation, health care, education, job security, or even a proper house to live in.
Iran is fortunate in having a huge income from oil to pay for the new slum clearance schemes and other social benefits planned. Even though she has cut production, the rising price of oil has provided Iran with more income than ever before. But there are other calls on her cash, particularly for the import of food. And Iran lacks the skilled administrators required to manage large scale housing schemes. So plans to rehouse the poor are going ahead very slowly. So far, only a tiny proportion of those in need have been moved to better accommodation, or provided with materials to improve the houses they live in now. The division between rich and poor that was evident in the Shah's time has not yet been significantly altered.