MYTH: Iran is a dangerous place where Western tourists – and particularly Americans – are neither welcomed, nor permitted to visit the country
FACT: Iran is a safe country where Western tourists - including Americans - are warmly and enthusiastically welcomed. Furthermore, it is a wonderful place to explore, full of extraordinary history, amazing architecture, diverse landscapes, delicious food and a vibrant and engaging culture.
FACT: Persians and Arabs are two distinct ethnic groups – two peoples with different languages, cultures, and histories. Properly grasping this distinction is critical to any understanding of Iran and its dynamic role in the contemporary Middle East.
MYTH: It is a pervasive belief that women in Iran are voiceless victims of the patriarchy, bereft of intellectual energy or otherwise barred from making genuine contributions to Iranian society
FACT: It’s easy to think that all women in the Middle East face the same set of circumstances. But, in Iran, the state of women’s rights is less a static condition than an evolving reality. They do face serious discrimination, in private and in public – but they have benefited extensively from education and family planning programs. And, today, they are not voiceless. They are the champions of their own cause, well-positioned to make lasting progress.
MYTH: It is commonly believed that Iranians hate Jewish people, thanks to their government’s anti-Zionist statements.
FACT: The truth is more complicated. Iran boasts the largest community of Jews outside of Israel, and Jews in Iran enjoy various protections under the law, access to synagogues and schools, and political representation. And, while they do face discrimination from the state, Iranian Jews generally live comfortable, middle-class lives – and they have long been a part of the Iranian story.
MYTH: Iran has contributed little in the way of culture or history
FACT: Nothing could be farther from the truth. Iranians are heirs to some of the world’s largest and most extraordinary civilizations, and their cultural roots stretch all the way back to ancient history. After the expansion of Arab kingdoms in the medieval period, Iranians continued to make indelible contributions to humanity, with their effulgent poetry, religious traditions, and art. Today, Iranians are among the world’s best filmmakers, poets, and novelists.