Published November 24, 2005
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 second in a series of eight installments about that trip, which will be aired every night on FOX News Channel.
Some young Iranians mark the anniversary of the of the Tehran hostage crisis of 1979 by finding ways to send the message, "America is cruel."
But these hard-liners are not representative of the whole of Iran's population. Outside the capital of Tehran, where "Death to America" demonstrations aren't uncommon, is a kinder, more relaxed atmosphere.
Click in the video box to the right for a report by FOX News' Amy Kellogg.
Up in Iran's hills, at least some young Iranians feel a lot more like Americans; and they'd like us to be friends.
Iran's under-30 crowd makes up 70 percent of the population. Too young to remember the shah — Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, who reined from 1941 to 1979 — or for that matter, the Iranian Revolution, they didn't lose their youth in the Iran-Iraq war. This crowd says they like Americans but not U.S. policy. They love their country but also wish it were more free.
"For example, we can't say our opinion about things our government do[es]. No, we can't," said one young Iranian.
But while freedom of speech is still an issue, society has loosened up over the past decade. Boys and girls are still not allowed to date in the Islamic Republic of Iran, but they sure do push the envelope.
At the local pizza and paintball joint, the girls come out to support their men. And at the high-tech mall, you can buy anything and everything.
When the government shuts down newspapers, curious and literate Iranians hit the Web; they are the fourth-biggest nation of bloggers.
At Tehran University, students want desperately to talk to an American, but most didn't want the camera recording their words. Some told FOX News they want to lose the mandatory headscarf, others want freedom to date. And one male student said he wished classes would be more relevant to the world around him.
"It's hard to talk about it because it may be dangerous but the only thing I can say about political science is this: We learn Islamic politics, not political science," said the student, named Hamid.
Timid yet nervy, too savvy to be silenced, it's a generation of competing voices. But it's thought the majority see their future solidly in the community of nations and that they are the engine that will drive, however slowly, Iran in the direction of democracy.
Watch Part III of the series, which focuses on the Israeli/Palestinian debate within Iran, on FOX News Channel's "Special Report with Brit Hume" at 6 p.m. ET Wednesday.