We travelled the whole country and were met everywhere we went by the most sincere, friendly and welcoming people we have ever met in ANY country. They were curious about the world outside of Iran and they wanted to know more about how they were perceived by the west.

On our first day we were lucky enough to visit the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza at Mashhad (not a tourist site at all, in an area of Iran not frequently visited by Westerners). Amongst the 1000’s of people amassed inside this sacred religious site our presence as Westerners was widely recognised with welcoming smiles and friendly gestures. Two teenage boys spotted us and made their way through the heaving throng of people to give us warm handshakes and welcoming hugs. The one young lad who spoke English said – “Welcome to my country, you’re welcome here – please tell everyone you know we are not terrorists”. He then proceeded to invite us to his house. This story is not isolated – This happened to us everywhere we went.

Tehran is a modern cultural city full of well educated, forward thinking young people who all aspire for more from their country. Everyone of them invited us to stay in their home.

Tehran has a museum of contemporary art that boasts one of the finest collections of Western Modern Art anywhere outside of the west.

The country is rich in history and beauty. It is a country full of surprises, but most of all it is a country full of human beings just like you and me who all want the same things from life.

Iran does have it’s own political problems and it’s own internal struggles – Iran is a country that has been manipulated by exterior forces for decades. It is a pawn in a larger game to the expense of the beautiful people that live there.

FUCK WAR and FUCK TRUMP. I urge everyone I know to stand up against this bullshit. Please don’t listen to the media who have painted a dark picture of Iran for years. THESE PEOPLE ARE NOT OUR ENEMY. Take to the streets, have a voice. Do whatever you can to fill this world with love!

Andrew Smith

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