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Mashad’s Arab Quarter

One of the innumerable ramifications of the Iran-Iraq war was the displacement of a great number of people who lived in the vicinity of the war zone. They had to flee their homes, taking refuge in the towns and cities far away from the bombardment, shelling and missile attacks. Mashad was one of these safe cities playing host to the war refugees, with the majority being the Arab population of south western Iran. They were housed in the Beheshti district of Mashad, more commonly known as the Arab Town. It contains forty two apartment blocks providing accommodation for approximately 1400 families.

On entering this district, you immediately step into a completely different atmosphere, full of Arab sights and sounds, from the spoken language and music to the traditional clothing and market. But the external appearance of the buildings in general is not very appealing. They give the impression that they are only regarded as a halfway inn where the residents are ready to move back to their original homes at any moment, although many have been living here for nearly thirty years and own their apartments.

Older inhabitants are generally more disgruntled. They still feel homesick, wishing to go back to where they were born and brought up, and they expect more from the government to help them fulfil this wish. But the younger generation are more optimistic and aspire to a brighter future. They have a number of role models to look up to, including several successful football players and a famous pop star, all of whom formerly lived in this neighbourhood.

In this multimedia report, we visit the Beheshti district of Mashad and get to know some of its residents.

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