In a previous post, Kebabistan reported on how in order to protest rising food prices in Iran (the result of the western-led sanctions against the country), shoppers recently participated in a "spontaneous" three-day boycott of grocery stores and bakeries.
The issue of the cost of food has clearly caught the attention of the Iranian authorities, particularly, it appears, regarding chicken, a staple of Persian cuisine whose price has skyrocketed in recent months, making it unaffordable for many average Iranians. The solution being offered by one official? Not to make more chickens available, but to make them invisible. Reports RFE/RL's Golnaz Esfandiari:
Chickens and their rising cost could soon join the list of censored topics in Iran.
Over the weekend, police chief Esmail Ahmadi Moghadam criticized state-controlled television for broadcasting images of people eating chicken. He suggested such footage could spur the underprivileged to revolt against affluent Iranians.
“Films are now the vitrine of the society, and some individuals witnessing this class gap might say, ‘We will take knives and take our rights from the rich,'” Ahmadi Moghadam warned during a July 14 press conference by law-enforcement officials.
In Iran, the government fixes the price of chicken at a point lower than the market rate, which has risen by some 60 percent since last year, presumably as a result of inflation and unprecedented tough Western sanctions imposed on Tehran for its controversial nuclear program. Nowadays Iranians pay as much as $5 for a kilogram of chicken. Pre-sanctions prices hovered around $2.
Long lines of people waiting to buy the government discounted chicken is now a common sight in Iranian cities, and people have been known to stand in queues for more than 14 hours in high summer temperatures.
Global Voices, meanwhile, rounds up some Iranian social media reports that claim to show crowds of overheated Iranians standing in line to buy chicken and also offers up a link to a very funny -- and slightly racy -- cartoon on the subject (translation of the Persian caption: "How many times have I told you not to watch films with chicken in them!").
Are the sanctions against their country and its suspected nuclear weapons program forcing Iranians to make, as the Gulf-based newspaper The National put it, a choice between "chicken or uranium"? Perhaps, but what a recent report from the Euronews website makes clear, the sanctions are certainly forcing many Iranians, who can no longer afford meat, to become vegetarians. Visiting Iran this past February, Euronews's London correspondent, Ali Sheikholeslami, found a school teacher who told him he hadn't been able to afford meat for three months. "We’ve turned to aubergine, the chicken of the poor," the teacher told him.