Amin Aqa, in the middle, with the leather jacket, is a “javanmard,” that is a gentleman, or a louti, a soft-hearted hoodlum, the Iranian version of Robin Hood, helping the poor and carrying old ladies’ bags. The loutis are very religious but also very independent from all political regimes, which explains why they keep going in and out of jail, for misdemeanors or political opposition. Sometimes the loutis have been politically exploited, for example during the coup in 1953: two famous loutis from the south of Tehran had received suitcases full of dollars from the CIA to help overthrow Prime Minister Mossadegh. They have their own code of honor, similar to that of the Zurkhoune (“strength houses”), and they worship the wrestler Golamreza Takhti, Gold Medalist at the Melbourne Olympic Games in 1956. Takhti, who was both incredibly strong and extremely delicate, had gathered help for the victims of the Quazvin earthquake in 1961. His popularity worried the Shah, all the more so as he was rather on the side of the revolutionaries, which would explain his mysterious death in 1968. After the Revolution, the regime tried to impose the supremacy of the Basij (Islamic volunteers) in the neighborhoods to defeat the loutis. This never quite worked, as the good fortune of Amin Aqa, in the Sizdah Aban neighborhood, gives ample proof!
Amin Aqa, the gang’s boss.
Serge, with two loutis of the Amin Aqa gang.
VIDEO : Gathering of the Amin Aqa gang in a kebabi store of the Sizdah Aban district, in the south of Teheran.