It is the latest and hippest rendezvous for Tehran’s privileged youth: the malls appearing across the city where the young can do a little shopping. Today over 60% of Iran’s population is less than 30 years old. They have grown up under the shadow of the mullahs, but have also been exposed to the winds of change of globalisation.
Many amongst them are timidly defying taboos and turning their backs on the revolution of their elders. But in south Tehran, it’s a different story. We are at the martyrs’ cemetery - the most important in the country, where thousands of fighters of the Islamic republic are buried alongside Imam Khomeini.
Ali is 26. He comes here every week to remember. He is a Bassiji, a guardian of the republic (officially, there are eight million of them): “We have to follow their path. Our generation glorifies these martyrs. That’s what makes our identity. Not everybody comes here like me but all of us respect them truly!”
It is difficult to grasp the new aspirations of Iranian youth. They balance between conservatism and a desire to open up. Freedom of speech is limited and criticizing the regime can mean a trip to prison.
We met Ramin who accepted, under condition of anonymity, to talk about his day-to-day life: "It’s hard to be young in Iran. You know when you can’t easily go to the swimming pool, to the gym with your wife, with your friends...It becomes very big for us in this country because it is banned. My dream? To be in the US."
The young generation does not believe in a possible political change. Their dreams are elsewhere. Every year, between 100 and 200,000 Iranians go into exile.