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Earthquake response shows Iranians' nationalism — and mistrust of authorities

While ordinary Iranians’ response to the deadly Nov. 12 earthquake has been a show of national solidarity, it also displayed mistrust in authorities.
Iranians sit outside damaged homes after salvaging furniture and household appliances in the town of Sarpol-e Zahab in the western Kermanshah province near the border with Iraq, on November 15, 2017, following a 7.3-magnitude earthquake that left hundreds killed and thousands homeless days before. / AFP PHOTO / ATTA KENARE        (Photo credit should read ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)
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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.

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