TEHRAN, Iran – FOX News' Amy Kellogg recently visited Iran, where she interviewed journalists, students and others on life inside the Islamic Republic. This is the first in a series of eight installments about that trip, which will be aired every night on FOX News Channel.
From the people who chant "death to America" and burn American flags to those who like Western items and would rather spend money on iPods than jihads, Iran is a country at a crossroads.
A deeply religious society, many in Iran are trying to keep up with the times but are fighting a new hard-line government that wants to turn back the clock.
Click in the video box to the right for a report by FOX News' Amy Kellogg.
In the green glow of Ayatollah Khomeini's shrine, devotees pay homage to their late leader, while others question the path the Islamic revolution has taken. Thousands of reformist candidate were barred from the last parliamentary elections. One politician, Fatemah Rakeei, took herself out of the running out of frustration at the entire political process.
"I saw that there is not justice and there is a great lie and not any respect to the people," said Rakeei, who is a former parliament member.
The people in Iran want a better material quality of life, possibly as much as they want greater political freedoms. Iran is OPEC's second-largest oil producer, yet there are limited social services. The rich are very rich, but the masses squeak by on about $200 a month.
Prices on The Tehran Stock Exchange went way up in 2004 but have fallen dramatically since. Some say what goes up must comes down. Others say a number of factors are involved: Iran's increasing isolation, the nuclear problem and uncertainty about the new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
As Iranians watch stocks plummet, there has been capital flight, some estimate, to the tune of $200 billion since the new president was elected.
Ahmadinejad won a landslide victory after he promised to redistribute the oil wealth to Iranians; but so far people haven't felt a difference. Still, he is what most Iranians asked for.
"I support anyone who [a] majority elects in this country. This is [a] democracy," said Mahmood Khaagani, who supports Ahmadinejad.
Meanwhile, others say there is no real democracy yet in Iran, but it will happen someday.
Ebrahim Yazdi was the foreign minister in November 1979 when Iranian militants took about 70 Americans hostage and held them for 444 days; he resigned in protest. Yazdi has been arrested 12 times but is still fighting for change in his country for the next generation.
"The future of Iran belongs to democracy. It is unavoidable," said Yazdi, head of the banned Freedom Movement of Iran, which bills itself as a liberalist national opposition movement seen as close to Iran's reformers. "Our society has all the characteristics of a transitional society. We are the youngest nation in the world. These young men and women are an asset. They demand what they deserve."
For now, as Iranians go about their daily lives, divisions within the hard-line government are forming and reformers are working behind the scenes to regroup in the hopes of bringing greater personal freedoms to the Iranian nation.
Part II of the series, which focuses on Iran's younger population and how they strive to drive Iran toward democracy, will air Tuesday on FOX News Channel's "Special Report with Brit Hume" at 6 p.m. ET.