The Washington Post:
ISTANBUL — The lifestyles of Iran’s privileged youths — including expensive holidays, glitzy parties and access to cash and jobs — have sparked public anger in recent months as U.S. sanctions squeeze the economy.
The young elite, some with government connections, flaunt their wealth on Instagram and in the streets of the capital, Tehran, sporting designer clothes and flashy cars and vacationing at posh resorts.
They are promoted to state jobs, granted lucrative scholarships and travel with ease. Even the granddaughter of the leader of Iran’s Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, was photographed last year in London with what appeared to be a $3,800 handbag — though some have speculated that it was fake.
But few in Iran can afford such comforts as costs rise and wallets shrink. And Iranians have started speaking out against inequality and a culture of nepotism that they say favors what are called the “aghazadeh,” or “noble-born” children of the elite.
Last month, President Hassan Rouhani’s son-in-law Kambiz Mehdizadeh was forced to step down after just two days as head of the Geological Survey of Iran following a public outcry and online accusations of cronyism. Mehdizadeh, 33, had previously served as an adviser to Iran’s Oil Ministry, but for many Iranians, his ties to Rouhani were proof that favoritism was at play.
That uproar followed a similar campaign last summer, when Iranians on social media urged politicians to publicly acknowledge any privileges enjoyed by their children because of government influence.
“I thank God that after my mission at the United Nations, my children . . . have returned to Iran and are living and working with their families in Tehran,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted as saying by Iran’s Donya-e-Eqtesad newspaper in August.
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