Earthquake Response shows Iranians’ Nationalism, Mistrust of Authorities

By for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.

A powerful 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck an area straddling the Iran-Iraq border on Nov. 12. Iran’s western province of Kermanshah was the hardest hit with over 400 fatalities. Sympathies immediately began pouring in from across Iran, with many taking direct measures to help the victims.

Many of these efforts, however, only created more difficulties in the delivery of aid to quake-stricken regions.

Iran’s social media networks were abuzz from the initial hours after the earthquake, with people asking how they could help. Very few suggested government-affiliated organizations, such as the Iranian Red Crescent Society, which, at times of disaster, is the largest entity involved in providing relief efforts in the country.

Instead, most Iranians seemed interested in finding nongovernmental organizations that could deliver their aid and donations to victims.

Iran’s celebrities responded to this call, assuring people that they knew just how to do this. Former soccer player and national team coach Ali Daei was one such example. In an Instagram post Nov. 13, Daei — who also used to play for Germany’s Bayern Munich — asked the public to send their nonmonetary donations to him so he could make sure it was delivered to the victims. Later that same day, Daei posted a bank account number and said that because public support had been massive, he would also accept monetary donations.

Sadegh Zibakalam, a professor of political science at Tehran University, also took a similar approach. On Nov. 15, Zibakalam — who has a large presence in Iranian media and on social networks — posted an account number on Instagram and said he knew some reliable people in Kermanshah who could make sure the aid was delivered to the victims.

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