The Difference Between You and Your Government...

Marjane Satrapi, Iranian-French graphic novelist, author of Persepolis:

"If I have one message to give to the secular American people, it’s that the world is not divided into countries. The world is not divided between East and West. You are American, I am Iranian, we don’t know each other, but we talk together and we understand each other perfectly. The difference between you and your government is much bigger than the difference between you and me. And the difference between me and my government is much bigger than the difference between me and you. And our governments are very much the same...

"The secular people, we have no country. We the people — all the secular people who are looking for freedom — we have to keep together. We are international, as they” — the fanatics of all religions — “are international.”

From an interview conducted in 2005:

Beneath their black robes and mandatory head scarves, the women in Marjane Satrapi’s graphic memoirs about Iran after the revolution are worldly even by Western standards. Outdoors in Tehran, where the guardians of the revolution prowl, men and women don’t so much as hold hands. Inside, behind closed doors, they have affairs, marry and divorce, drink and dance, and revel in dirty jokes and sacrilegious samizdat. Their sensuality is a rebellion against the mullahs’ pinched and brutal theocracy, so they take their pleasures seriously.

By inviting outsiders into this intimate world, Satrapi makes contemporary Iran seem both less foreign and more terrifying. In “Persepolis” and “Persepolis 2,” she used deceptively simple comic-book imagery to tell a riveting story about her childhood in Iran, her teenage exile in Europe, and her not-at-all-triumphant return home. (She’s now adapting “Persepolis” into an animated movie for French TV.) The life she draws — with her cosmopolitan, politically engaged parents, her adolescent obsession with punk rock, her search for solace in books and boyfriends — is typical of well-off, precocious city kids everywhere. The familiarity makes readers feel the Satrapi family’s horrified disbelief as fundamentalists obsessed with sex and death take over their country.

This interview was conducted by Michelle Goldberg for in 2005.


World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.