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Hugh Sykes in Iran.

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Eddie Mair | 12:19 UK time, Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Hugh Sykes is in Tehran for us - you'll hear some of his reports on PM, starting tonight. And in case you heard his radio postcard from Tehran on Broadcasting House at the weekend, here are some real pictures and more words from Hugh to fill in the gaps:

"Hossein and his 11-year-old daughter Hamdeh, at the Hazrat-e-Abdul Azim shrine in Ray, south Tehran.

It's one of the biggest and most important places in the entire middle east that Shia pilgrims visit.

The main bazaar in central Tehran.

Chahar-Rah Bozorg, "Big Intersection" at the centre of the bazaar.
Loud shouting and a clatter of carts. And a pomegranate juice vendor right in the middle.

Four fabric sellers in the bazaar.

Crockery store in the bazaar.

Terrible Tehran traffic. About 35,000 people die on Iran's roads every year..and there's one estimate of 26 motorcycle deaths in Tehran every day.
Iran population: about 70 million.

The Tehran metro


.....and immediately outside Taleghani metro station:

The former US embassy, where 52 American diplomats were held hostage for 444 days from Nov 1979 to January 1981.

The background symbols signify 'Islam'.

The end of the sentence reads: ...dignified the nation."

Self-explanatory. And - around town:


Solidarity with Palestinians: a Teheran mural showing the Palestinian boy Mohammed al Durrah, shot dead at the Netzarim crossing in Gaza in 2000.

Solidarity with Irish hunger strikers.

And here's a Tehran Bendy Bus! They used to have red double-deckers here. Boris, where are you??"


  • 1. At 12:50pm on 02 Sep 2008, HillmanHunter wrote:

    That white car in the last photo looks familiar.

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  • 2. At 1:00pm on 02 Sep 2008, Big Sister wrote:

    PMHugh: First the words, now the pictures!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/news/bh/ - Listen again, from just under 22 mins in.

    I can't find more superlatives. :o)

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  • 3. At 1:39pm on 02 Sep 2008, Otter wrote:

    The Tehran metro is so clean!

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  • 4. At 2:12pm on 02 Sep 2008, Gillianian wrote:

    Thanks Hugh

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  • 5. At 3:13pm on 02 Sep 2008, ApratimMukherjee wrote:

    Well,I think the true picture of Tehran has been revealed here.It is similar to the capitals of other countries in the middle east...
    Thanks for the beautiful pictures.
    Also Iran has been revealed a bit.

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  • 6. At 4:25pm on 02 Sep 2008, David_McNickle wrote:

    So, no anti-Islamic posters, only anti-west. I suppose you'd get your hand chopped off for that sort of thing. Well, there was the Superman poster....

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  • 7. At 5:47pm on 02 Sep 2008, Big Sister wrote:

    Another very interesting report from Hugh. And thank you for allowing us to hear the people of Iran, in their own tongue (and I'm very impressed at your own fluency!) as this adds a great deal to the experience.

    As an aside, this is something I feel quite strongly about with other reports involving non-English speakers. So often we just hear the first three or four words, then a translator takes over. On the TV, I think this should be done with subtitles, to allow us to become more accustomed to different languages.

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  • 8. At 6:01pm on 02 Sep 2008, Big Sister wrote:

    Oh, and, Hugh

    Khayli mamnoon

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  • 9. At 6:09pm on 02 Sep 2008, Hugh wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 10. At 6:09pm on 02 Sep 2008, steelpulse wrote:


    Thank Hugh for his report.

    President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is perhaps unpopular generally at the moment in Iran?

    I grieve that - perhaps because of pressure from zealots around him - the man who couldn't properly acknowledge a former teacher of his - due to her gender - is not popular there too.

    Grieve? Really I do.

    For the ordinary man and woman in the street, that are suffering more than usual in a supposedly oil rich country.

    The ordinary public that Hugh always bring us has my deepest sympathy.

    I keep saying it - ignore the Governments in gauging a nation.

    Gauge a country by its people. Hugh seems to - to wonderful effect as far as I can tell.

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  • 11. At 6:26pm on 02 Sep 2008, Big Sister wrote:

    Hugh, does that first bit mean:

    You're welcome, Big Sister!


    But I'm struggling with the rest. I want to learn this language.

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  • 12. At 7:26pm on 02 Sep 2008, Gillianian wrote:

    Hugh, that was a superb report - no analysis, no superfluous comment - just one human being communicating with others.
    I think ''How is your Life?'' would make a great title for your book of photographs ;o)

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  • 13. At 7:26pm on 02 Sep 2008, RJMolesworth wrote:

    Hugh, thank you for the BH report. I listened to it just now whilst looking at the photos. A radio with pictures but definitely radio and not television.

    Perhaps you might be able to find out why Iran can build a nuclear reactor but not an oil refinery to relieve their shortage of petrol. Is it internal politics, external politics or a shortage of skills? I would be very interested to know.

    I hold the unpopular view that Iran should have nuclear weapons. Iran needs to feel safe. If it feels safe it will deal better with the U.S.A. and see it less as an enemy. Iran has always played power politics in the region but it has not attacked its neighbours for about 1500 years. I don't think it will start now.

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  • 14. At 8:06pm on 02 Sep 2008, Big Sister wrote:

    Oh my. Hugh has been moderated for a message in Farsi. How sad.

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  • 15. At 11:54pm on 02 Sep 2008, jonnie wrote:

    Great report Hugh.

    For one tiny second at the beginning I wondered if the line had gone down - phew! It all sounded great.

    Like BigSis - I also liked the way Hugh handled the translations - and smiled when one interviewee retorted with a strong English 'YES'.

    As regards to BigSis's comment about the translations on telly - I think with news we should still have the audio translations. I just know too many people who sit there squinting trying to read them ;-) However with foreign films I agree. I've watched to much Italian overdubbed television to consider otherwise.

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  • 16. At 07:28am on 03 Sep 2008, Hugh wrote:

    Blimey this moderation is harsher than post-publication censorship in Iran!

    All I said in Farsi, was "You're welcome Big Sister! Where did you learn your Farsi?"

    I also took David McNickle to task for his innacurate cliche about Iran as a place where punishment includes removal of hands. That's Saudi Arabia David!

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  • 17. At 08:08am on 03 Sep 2008, Big Sister wrote:

    Ha ha, Hugh! That'll give the mods something to think about!

    Glad to see I got the first bit right, btw. I only have a few words, but would like to learn more. Most of my working life was spent using languages, all European, but I am very interested in all languages as they interest me, both for their structure, and as a means of communication.

    I'd like to think that, one day, I'll be able to travel to the Middle East, and in particular Iran. It's all a bit complicated to explain here, but I've a real interest in those cultures which goes back to my childhood. Listening to your reports is a vicarious substitute.

    Loftan baz ham be-ya id, Hugh!

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  • 18. At 09:44am on 03 Sep 2008, Sid wrote:

    Thanks for the photos, Hugh, and the report.

    D McN ought to be aware that Iran is where they hand you for sodomy.

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  • 19. At 10:01am on 03 Sep 2008, U10783173 wrote:

    I didn't get a chance to comment yesterday but I have to say that I think Hugh's reports provide us with a view of places that we don't get in other news items. I thoroughly enjoyed this piece and the one on BH on Sunday.

    I can't think of another broadcaster, with such a natural style and empathy with his subject, who can get so much of the 'feel' of a location and it's people into a three or four minute piece.

    And his photographs are good too! sheesh!

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  • 20. At 10:08am on 03 Sep 2008, Mrs Effingham wrote:

    PMHugh. Don't be blowing any balloons up in the Chopoffyerhand Bar in Tehran.

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  • 21. At 10:19am on 03 Sep 2008, jonnie wrote:

    BigSister ??? ?????

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  • 22. At 10:21am on 03 Sep 2008, jonnie wrote:

    Oh dear - the Farsi from an online translator didn't come out as expected :-(

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  • 23. At 10:21am on 03 Sep 2008, jonnie wrote:


    BigSister ??? ?????

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  • 24. At 10:42am on 03 Sep 2008, peej wrote:

    Cracking report Hugh (as always). I think it gave us more of an insight than a dozen interviews with government officials - of whatever persuasion.

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  • 25. At 10:54am on 03 Sep 2008, David_McNickle wrote:

    PMHugh 16, But they think about it in Iran.

    Sid 18, Thanks for that.

    'Hugh Syles in Iran'. How does one Syke?

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  • 26. At 11:27am on 03 Sep 2008, Big Sister wrote:

    Jonnie (21)(23) - Why so many questions? :o)

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  • 27. At 11:46am on 03 Sep 2008, Big Sister wrote:

    David (25), that could apply to a lot of countries, and not all muslim. I've even heard it mentioned as a remedy to stop late night wrist exercises ;o)

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  • 28. At 12:23pm on 03 Sep 2008, gossipmistress wrote:

    TIH (19) - I agree entirely!

    There are a lot of anti-western/USA images above - I wonder if there is anything at all pro-western, or western music, DVD's, TV etc is watched or listened-to at all? Just interested to know! Thanks for your always inetresting and insightful reports, Hugh.

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  • 29. At 12:26pm on 03 Sep 2008, U10783173 wrote:

    Big Sis (27) - What are you doing with your wrists late at night to cause such a threat?

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  • 30. At 12:31pm on 03 Sep 2008, Big Sister wrote:

    No, Horse, my wrists are fully relaxed of a night time. Once I've turned off the computer, that is ;o)

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  • 31. At 12:47pm on 03 Sep 2008, Thunderbird wrote:

    It's Carry-on-Blog

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  • 32. At 1:59pm on 03 Sep 2008, vainly_here wrote:

    Oh, and Big Sis (8)

    Kylie Minogue.

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  • 33. At 2:02pm on 03 Sep 2008, vainly_here wrote:

    Oh, and Big Sis (7) I entirely agree with you. It must be even more annoying to those whose mother tongue is obliterated (as my own often is by foreground music).

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  • 34. At 2:04pm on 03 Sep 2008, Big Sister wrote:

    Vyle: My husband would agree with you, except that his mother tongue is usually obliterated by Radio 4 ;o)

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  • 35. At 4:17pm on 03 Sep 2008, David_McNickle wrote:

    BS 25, But we aren't discussing lots of other countries.

    Wrist wrestling?

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  • 36. At 4:53pm on 03 Sep 2008, Big Sister wrote:

    No, David, we weren't.

    I'll wrist wrestle you any time. :o)

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  • 37. At 4:54pm on 03 Sep 2008, Big Sister wrote:


    Well, it was the best I could manage, quickly.

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  • 38. At 5:01pm on 03 Sep 2008, David_McNickle wrote:

    BS 36, When I was regularly pushing wheelbarrows in archaeology, a female US marine challanged to wrist wrestle with me. Big mistake! I learned from Snoopy in Petaluma, Cal.

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