My sister's best friend from medical school, Shadan, is from Iran, as is her husband, Ali. In fact, her husband escaped during the revolution and can never return because of his political activities. They are amazing people. I met Shadan's mom at their medical school graduation, and at the time she and her husband were still living in Iran (they've since emigrated to the U.S.). It was hard to imagine how she could hide her vivacious, dynamic personality and stylish, colorful clothing underneath the chador she was forced to wear in public. Shadan's parents sent their daughters to the U.S. for their education, knowing that they would have more freedom here.
They are the face of Iran for me. I'm again reminded of that quote by the late George Carlin I love (and which I included a few months ago in a blog post, so forgive me!):
"Another plan I have is 'World Peace through Formal Introductions.' The idea is that everyone in the world would be required to meet everyone else in the world, formally, at least once. You'd have to look the person in the eye, shake hands, repeat their name, and try to remember one outstanding physical characteristic. My theory is, if you knew everyone in the world personally, you'd be less inclined to fight them in a war: 'Who??? The Malaysians??? Are you kidding??? I know those people!!!'"
If everyone had a Shadan and Ali (and their family) in their lives, we would all be saying "Who? The Iranians??? Are you kidding??? I know those people!!!" Even though they personally haven't lived in Iran in years, that country (and every other country the U.S. is thinking of attacking...) is filled with people just like them.
If you have not yet read the books Persepolis and Persepolis 2 (or seen the movie), I highly recommend them! Don't be put off by the comic book format--they are beautiful books.