Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Rock n Roll in Iran

Rock'n'roll in Iran
Editor's note: Christiane Amanpour is CNN's chief international correspondent. Her reports on Iran air tonight on "Anderson Cooper 360°" 10 p.m.-midnight ET.

It's always a rush to revisit Iran. I grew up there, left during the Islamic revolution 25 years ago, and now regularly go back on assignment for CNN. I went back recently for a series of reports on the country.

I never quite know what to expect these days. Who would have thought Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a fundamentalist Islamic hardliner, could have been elected president by a country that's overwhelmingly young and overwhelmingly wants reform, modernization, travel and dialogue with the West?

For me, the most interesting thing about this country is the juxtaposition of the regime's hardline, even militant, supporters with the young kids, teenagers and adults who could belong anywhere, even the United States.

One day, I head underground to listen to...a ROCK BAND!!!! The next day, I head to the mosque to hear the young hardliners wax passionate about the Islamic revolution that happened in 1979, as if it were yesterday, praising the new conservative government for taking them back to those values.

Many of these kids just want to play their music. They are not political, yet they have to play their music in secret.

There are definitely two Irans. The dilemma for the West is figuring out which one to deal with: Who to punish? Who to reward? And how? There are no easy answers on Iran, only constant questions. And never has that dilemma been so critical to solve as today, now that Iran's new president has hauled the world into yet another nuclear crisis.

Each time I leave Iran, I don't know what I'll find when I come back. No one does.
Posted By Christiane Amanpour, CNN Correspondent: 5:06 PM

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