Reporter in Iran Speaks to US Students on Google Hangout

Williams College students speak to ABC News' Muhammad Lila and an Iranian teacher about everyday life in Iran.
42:35 | 11/05/13

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Transcript for Reporter in Iran Speaks to US Students on Google Hangout
Personal organizers and thanks Berger thanks for joining us. You know this is the first time we're trying to -- -- a great way for us to stay in touch and engage directly. With people back home. You know part of this whole trip has been and educational experience for me but hopefully through -- and -- -- and the places that we've been going we're hoping used to free -- use us as a vehicle. -- to bring part of you -- back where viewers backed the United States. We've been here for. Over recount and it's been very enlightening experience for those of you were joining us on who hang out elsewhere perhaps elsewhere in America. I'm ultimately let you run with us is professor and I whispered arts and and -- modern Middle East clouds at Williams College in Williamstown. Professor why don't you give us a brief introduction. On your class and your students. You're yes I -- actually let my students say introduce our class and -- where we are. -- -- So yeah. -- William. I don't is called a moderate east. At -- you seeing huge economic political all the -- cultural. -- -- -- What are -- so we're really -- you -- And it -- -- Hassan has about 45 students from all over the world though mostly. American US domestic students. And that's about 5015 woman and man. Looks like and and that's what it's it's a class that is not a requirements. At all for the -- curriculums the students here are taking this as just for their own personal interest. Perfect I'm just gonna pop open -- video -- that you can see who's next to me. Hopefully this is gonna work and you'll see I'm with actors she's in English teacher here in Tehran so rather -- speaking with. Note that western guidance comes -- It also direct questions to her as somebody who lives here -- speaks English as well and just for the record professor I also happen to take a modern. Middle East Corso that was an undergrad as well I don't know it was -- courses that I took. I'm. Very relevant I should say to to the troubles -- taking these. Absolutely so we -- -- course who left the professor and what what are we cannot listen are you. Kept it was I -- -- -- at the university also which at halftime was a great place to study here and eastern civilizations and a professor was. So who who is 84. First question or -- the front of the house. Friday or. I'm not so I really well well. And into Saturday hurts our. Ups. -- what's each month. -- And no -- anybody who aren't. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- to what extent is -- election night and sort of -- people is -- not estimate change. Or something and and it's the teams that sort of principal. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- And yes. It. -- good you know good point there. So -- -- and talk about that. The -- -- -- it's a democracy and that's. No. She -- the people -- the democratically elected leaders. Where is -- -- by its authoritarian government and if people didn't necessarily an act that we then blamed our leaders but not the people. But also -- and are we responsible as the people. If we can ask us to be. Governor and what it's been. Announced a demand. -- -- Promote books. Unite states accused -- information. Department of State media. Let me burn up or the United States and school and so what we've heard what colonial America -- the American revolution. It's appropriate -- What extent we appreciate that the person what the United States but we haven't and I hope it comes about -- -- -- -- So OK guys we're back sorry that we keep cutting in and -- the problem. So frustrating to see. Rampant that this is exciting. And -- and what are we going in and fire away yes and I think you have a question. And at least. -- -- at election time Landry. -- isn't it changed the narrow and how. It -- -- now I'm been sits. Out. So did did you hear that question wasn't December's elections and you know there's a news -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- what extent that is sort of very visible that. Some of these political changes. The impact of the election. So I owed to us. -- -- If you limit on the did you conferences with a UC they have never been a problem at all those this one time when the whole we -- Speaking to them once it happened that electricity went off I'm sort of a minute -- came back so that generates kicked him in the mystic I don't. And that's second time it happened then it's a sort of during the Arab Spring and I -- very moment that government decided to turn its -- And so that -- country nobody really knew what happened. And then -- -- such unpopular decision and we were sitting there in the -- us electricity there was a -- make it in an adamant against it and came back armed. About the connectivity that we defense. -- -- We use of the video conferencing. Programs in the past -- sort of just awesome I -- just not what sort of public component to it that's -- this year. But this -- come to yes. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Everything -- -- -- -- Yes it's a public classroom. -- -- -- -- Did you hear them. We didn't users who are here is just -- addressed. The elections this year and how we're seeing change manifest itself into -- That trip. Move. Change is visible. And you can feel it. And there are people vote probably would like to see -- -- -- But there are -- wise enough not to -- students and day out checks being optimistic but I'm not single minded you know. Yeah I can -- you guys a good example. You know. We talk about how there's a ban on FaceBook and Twitter every young person that I've spoken to. People that are you know -- -- In your arms and engineering different courses there all -- FaceBook and all a Twitter most of them happened on the -- -- homes so they're very well connected. One other things president -- -- talked about was. Leading the ban on FaceBook and Twitter because. -- everyone's using it anyway it was officially Bennett. What -- he realizes that's sort of been spending. But it's not a change that he can do right away it's not a beauty can you know within the first few weeks tree -- look at look at it. It's going to be an ongoing process so. You know all -- two she said. There there is a sense of change -- young people are engaged again with the government. But I think it's unrealistic to expect these changes. Overnight. -- -- mussina has been using future and that FaceBook but they are not acknowledging it is. Officially because testing the lost and you cannot use it use it but is it changed that there -- an. If it is not a very good example because you know everybody knows it he's using Twitter the foreign minister's using Twitter. They encourage their own administration to start using Twitter. And they are so everybody knows that -- Home everybody knows that we -- in his -- she's got somebody that -- photos and we we try to connect with whoever was in the social each team. That could. You know interview -- so that we can we can do behind the scenes and undulating social media. Even though it's not a secret that they're tweeting. It wouldn't want to be in want to -- it publicly. Not because they were afraid but it was just too soon for -- -- come -- and yes we're using Twitter because there's still -- ban in place we know from sort of keep hearing here in the ground it's -- -- -- they want to do. They want to be able to -- -- pressure using Twitter we think it's a great to a community. But -- can't we just yet because you haven't reached that threshold. Where where they have to send in an act and they don't worry about hardliners. The only currency -- we're -- Twitter I think he suspects -- question a year from now. You know -- might be different if my publicly acknowledge that's what they're doing right now it's still an uphill battle that there. To what extent to eat onions who are on FaceBook and Twitter viewed -- sort of measures to open up FaceBook -- -- us -- arises the it girl. Liberalizing. Measures or do they view that as a waste by the government may be to monitor them more closely -- I heard a lot of -- Various parts of the world in which various governments are accessing people's social media site so this might -- -- way -- the government controlling ports and being. Better to keep -- some people rather than not something that's a progressive hadn't liberalizing move our -- are concerned about -- -- What they just hit us a progressive move. You know I -- I think they did the key differences. We're looking at a generation now it's entering her -- just like you guys didn't hurt either mid twenties. That have grown up with FaceBook. It had grown up with Twitter. -- can use it regardless of whether or not that the government bands that are not. There's no question certain things are perhaps more restrictive here's social media is a big example -- that. But people. Have found ways around that. Analysis of it and looked as directly answers your question but finding ways around these official blocks. And bands. Is more -- -- nuisance and an inconvenience than anything I think people just. You know OYOS used to -- -- like Iraq and use violence to do that -- good music anyway. Sweater dark thing that you don't be opening up but this is in lead and be monitored. Or or under surveillance more. To be honest. And -- as a key observation here. If you if you think of ordinary Iranians. They're no different -- ordinary Americans. -- that we spoke to students that we spoke to. Are exactly -- you wanna get their degrees you honey graduate you want to get jobs and they don't want anything to interfere with that. I don't think you know most people -- -- consciously. Oh well you know -- -- something maybe it'll get -- If you're doing some kind of suspicious activity like you know dealing -- -- -- underground groups or outlawed groups are criminalized groups then maybe those people might have. Concerns but I would say the majority of Iranians. Just want to live -- express themselves and ordinary way -- thing -- -- Americans. And I -- and I'm -- I -- you. Don't. -- It -- so. -- I don't this celebration this week as he. -- -- -- It's a very good question you this isn't -- -- -- mom. -- When communities that Madden in Manhattan and you. The infant. During desert just sit there talking in the person amongst themselves about who our secure alleged -- Whether. It's it's it's it's a matter. He'd be able to sense what is going on in the hearts of people or a mom among us. We know that's. We like Americans. Issued ask the tourists about Iraq. There is no exception. Everywhere Diego. People who welcomed them -- -- you know arms and open face. And this is he's a good indication that -- is not our hearts against the American people. But when you mentioned that that Airbus flight from and a prostitute. What's shut down. That -- governments -- American people. You do people -- Americans. It's. Oh in their memory. If he's the -- Good the you know breaking news. And people who are just like them. Yes and you know let me let me just chime -- -- that we you know the last few days is you guys and following there have been protests. In Iran an anti American protests. So you guys -- -- -- I look. I went -- very easily run they think I'm just a local wherever I go. So we're in the heart of these protests. Is -- burning American flags right in front of -- chanting death to America right in front of me. And and I had -- stand around and bewilderment like oh my audited and allowed Americans and record they can you be down here's a night. So so we went -- some of these really. Hardliners you know it's tough questions -- -- -- -- as journalists who grew up that was questioned was always hated by the way I'm American -- So how can I understand when you guys for -- The answer. It has been the -- Every single person we -- the moment it finally you're from the west they'll actually be more kind TU and -- -- listen. Like being -- -- you don't give us and they will say listen. River near -- and you don't like -- people it only means that we don't like your foreign policy. So they -- in -- in the minds of Iranians psyche when they're burning the American flag. They don't need any difference the American people it's there are -- saying we don't agree with American foreign policy. -- -- -- -- -- -- Because this is an issue of perception. So when you -- -- -- the American -- they say well we don't really mean harm the American people. But then you know they would -- -- -- what happens when Americans burn -- Iran how should we interpret that. Offices city feel as -- well according to rise not okay -- the American flag is okay. And there's a bit of a contradiction in terms of how people perceive both things and how -- renewables in what is okay in one. He's wrong theory to -- To -- seem. And in the country and something that should be respected. An end. Sort of just just full of them you know we've been talking about changing -- -- one of the things we learned here when we came here Tuesday. His death to -- chance. Used to be broadcast on television after Friday prayers. The -- -- which is the state -- here is under an entity. To not broadcast people chanting death to America there are some exceptions when it comes to certain -- that those -- broadcast. But but -- general notion -- every Friday prayers it would broadcast to America. Yes that's don't -- be rebroadcast. And you might seem like -- understand that that's actually UPQ you're wrong. For the state broadcaster. And we're told him hide from the highest level of the state broadcaster -- mandating for now we don't want to broadcast. And so that's another sign things are slowly. Slowly starting to change. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Tribute. Are bought and I don't in an. The -- yeah. You're correct. When you. -- students. -- or free it didn't. -- You -- right but you read it. Sure and I do your local -- -- been. I think where they feel free is. Being able to pursue their own education being able to meet whoever they want. And and basically living formal lines where there are some restrictions that you. Our our most cities surrounding politics. There -- some red -- -- when it comes to who you associate with. People that are considered. You know anti government. You know there might be some some challenges they -- Iranians want to go and you know you wanna bitterly -- acre ruby who has been involved in the green beans. One election previous to this. That would cause colts. You know if -- associated rid. A group where people -- people have been put in jail. For suspicious activities to the government. Perhaps when you your freedom. But but overwhelmingly I think. You know this goes back to the specific person -- -- covers the wanted to KC. Where we were talking to the guy and you his -- explain freedom. I'm not -- sends an -- usually mean much since. You don't you lose his -- -- ordinary guy probably like practicing Iranian Muslim. -- who wanted to project the right image. And what he says depends what you mean by free. You know I don't think connecting she -- and you should also chime in on this well would immediately be more freedom or they have freedom. I don't think they want -- to assist in the lastly I don't think they want for example women. To walk down the street in bikinis angle that you -- sort of ready for that social yet. But windy -- you know freedom it's it's it's the freedom to. To live music and be greeted the balance of Islamic rules however wrong you'd -- -- I hope that's that's -- she agenda. Freedom means to be able to pursue. Your yes. -- cynical and use ABC's -- -- and there's -- you're free to pursue the goal and of course. -- climate is different everywhere in the world and to -- -- culture language and religion is different and you -- In Iran and we have -- to you know. Find the loopholes in this area to pursue our you know goals and -- and to be. The same would -- It's something since -- would you we are -- meeting and it would get my life. Or women's -- you knew he was -- an -- but in reality if you ask women. And the power has not -- an hour -- Problem they probably cannot do we -- if they have a choice. -- did you ask -- -- of course students. There's -- do you feel. I didn't by having to Wear a job would be good and he hadn't does -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- My friend I do everything. When it just -- just our problem not an -- not be brought. If if you had a choice brother not afterwards. -- Greta just go out and and afterward. Earth simple -- of our news. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Continue -- and you know yes thank you bury you -- And and here I can't affect me and you can rule are -- My friend. There are pretty yeah -- happy it wouldn't -- they're not likely that you're happy yet sure. Country surely -- -- -- an example of this you don't need we met with the music group. There is considered underground. You know to -- music group and to perform publicly Yucca license yeah can be registered. And it's part of that. There are authorities that will look over the lyrics that you write in nature of the lyrics. You know -- explicitly against Islam. And -- any issues that's come up. And and it's actually it's part of -- vibrant debate -- run that's very rarely covered. It is when it comes to sort of the legalities of what's allowed and what's not there's a debate over whether or not woman. Is allowed to perform solo. In front of a public audience the issue allow you to sing on her own. In front of mad. And there's a debate going over -- so. This underground -- as a woman. Who hasn't fantastic reports I mean -- -- -- of course it was mind blowing the good I'll get a free flood check our website ABC you can be able solicitor. -- -- -- -- And touched all she wants to do is to be able to -- -- lead singer ban. She could do that if she left the country she can go to device you could go to any other country in the region. I should probably have a record deal and -- are being -- Which she told us close. She -- even -- dancing on my home. It -- will come one day when I will be seen the crowd of my own and because of that she doesn't want to -- -- -- she says. -- -- I'm going to stay here. And -- and or progressive interpretation of Islam. Which she is convinced we'll wanted to com. And not abandon her country so you'll find people. Sure you'll -- he wouldn't say oh you know this country's restrictive. But you'll find a lot of other younger people who sense that there's a -- -- -- and they want to see how -- can put up. Yeah it's an -- and when you talk about that because he -- onion films have had not much success internationally in the last 1015 years. And and one -- in -- and why they have received some critical acclaim is that. People realize some of the restrictions that the filmmakers face but despite that there's so much creativity in beauty and most films that. They're very able to pursue you know what what is UT what he's human you know what is what is our humanity despite these very. And very specific restrictions that the Italian filmmakers have compared to at least Hollywood's. Filmmakers so Teddy you have -- meant -- Years. I was curious -- but the act. Thanks for being a -- Are cheaper aren't citizens -- -- so you eats and also. Whether they are poor -- national news. Bulletins or six it's. Yes indeed get a question. -- We did I'm good I think maybe -- this evening the evening dress and we can and Jessica Hanson. Interesting discussions about -- on her own and -- interest and respect your questions and you these. Yes so the question was about the sanction was among. And Iran and whether you have seen a noticeable difference end and that's what our response who sat sort of represented themselves in -- -- society recently. But having a fact of -- -- -- you know society including nearly seven. And then finally if people blame primarily United States. Or if it's -- -- the international community that is behind these these sanctions. Seated. I'm forty four years old and remember the days of revolution. -- they want we act sanctions sanctions is not something you. It -- be used to be called tomorrow and them. Somehow. All the time we could get all the goods and we needed. The only. I think that tightening the sanctions has what that you have to pay high price. For the same routes and -- services. -- says there's no doubt that's. Disconnecting. Iran banks. From others -- these really are and that's serious and that the prices are. Really got -- -- become much much harder but it's a lot of it is not -- the -- -- Not only be. Analysts believe that it's you to the mismanagement. -- governments of the situation that happens it could have done much better and inflation could have been much -- And the products. A lot of celebrities is it is our sanctions that aggregate aggravated by inability the an immediate end to manage it properly. But after all if you ask patient who meets. Lifesaving drugs he doesn't care. Who's responsible he just needs less -- either. Sure -- -- what -- -- -- I mean do you find life. More difficult would -- to replace them know him know he's ready -- -- you do differently you know. On home be because -- -- median prices have gone -- Friend when I mean. I'm thinking aren't -- people need not -- One one -- it's easy to room. Said it best when he said listen. What happens with inflation. Is that the press is everything double or triple. That thanks to inflation your salary also doubles triples. Right -- -- whatever avenues he you have hormone at least outwardly. If people that are suffering of the people that -- fixed incomes. Certain people -- government jobs certain people who walked into fixed income. They're there really suffering. Because commit the same amount of money but the price. You know eggs or cheese goes up three times it's very difficult -- But but overall I can give you comparison. I was in Baghdad in 2002. Rated higher -- at the UN sanctions against Iraq. Adjust it for the second gulf war and -- -- rock then you can feel the effect of sanctions everywhere you went. -- -- -- -- -- Inflation sanctions we're we're so -- -- if you want to carry around the equivalent of underdogs to west gets curious shopping bag -- -- You -- does not fuel that we -- when you drive around there are skyscrapers. Being built. Under part -- buildings being built their shopping centers being built construction going on all around. Mind you this is our experience just in Tehran. But -- like you know this this whole idea that Iran has been crippled by sanctions. It just isn't that reality here. And salute. -- it's. It's. How. Aaron interpret its armored car in recess there aren't so our president is there are some risks this. Or these units are. Or is you don't do and so there -- how many -- -- Your progress -- you just repeat -- question of course. Please yes so in the US -- emitted into that -- visit to the UN about you know about a month the goal and whether or not he and President Obama Obama would have any kind of contact on the phone call announcement of that. If -- keep in -- beginning up is that a diplomatic relations if you how to keep doing it on. Received about that this he would pass on and that's -- an attempt for diplomacy -- at some sort of political ploy. And then that -- if people in that -- who are not keen on establishing. -- clinical if you diplomatic relations for the United States at this point. The. Everybody was -- everybody was very happy. It's a change after some thirty some years some years of yeah it's a change and Tebow would like to think that it brings peace. It's very common room easier access. And who good -- you know. Yes I -- -- just a general sense -- there is a segment of the population here. We use this term hard liner I don't know how correct -- is but there is a segment this of the population here. A big piece. America what America has done over the -- 34 years. -- -- it you know there is a slice of society that doesn't have any dealings. It fit you know is very critical -- -- don't forget about who -- who have -- There are people who through lane exit games -- anything from -- -- those who voted no longer to mature. Which is very important as far as changing you -- those. But there are some people here. Whom you know fidelity spent their entire lives fighting the west specifically America. And and you know that's that's their identity. Their identity is we are against America so there is just a small segment there that wants to. You know not not have better ties. But definitely -- ordinary means there -- spirit. My hot and in Iraq for just a second -- you got a question from eight. Some went Brandon Glenn is wondering what's life like in Iran for the devout Jew or Christian. -- so I can answer is because we just went to synagogue. Yesterday morning. And I gotta say you know. And as a journalist you wanna go somewhere. Where there's people sort of have been prepared for you in advance because you want to be. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Although you know we get -- to get permission to shoot their -- to reduce short we just started talking to ordinary accusing Iran. The Jewish community diva is being here or. Since the days of Cyrus. -- -- I'm Tim. Yet they -- they've been here ever for a very long time. Oh and and -- this is I I tried to ask hard questions. I tried to get something out of you're Jewish prayer leader. Saying that he was having a hard time that you know -- were restricted. But unions -- any citizen when it comes to politics. You're going to be differences of opinion but when it comes to worship peace it appeared they were free to worship whatever they wanted. The -- was open every day. Here's here's the best way to describe. The relationship between Ukrainian Jews in reimbursements. We went to a synagogue that's not too far from where our producer -- And do everything so form -- a couple times so so we went in there. And you know this this guy walks in his elderly men and he starts you know he's he's -- starts worshipping. And if she -- really goes flop. I see their -- neighborhood all the time I -- what you're used to its. -- the VA view is that there are well when it comes to religious practice. Officially -- Think what law Jews came. Can't be forbidden. From from worshipping and and following their own religion. I think that's -- that's actually do you -- constitution. They're entitled to all to do all their customary religious and you know interactions and -- by the rule of law day that he this is their rights they can. -- wand you can treat -- UT's defense ago where Muslim Jews -- -- and Iran but sometimes. Some young and Muslims I -- an army hands over Jewish people you know three team can displace over that if. Make sure it won't just just be clear. We we didn't get him very much to the political situation. But my sense. -- horses that no Iranian Jews are probably not very political. -- in the sense that you know. When it when it comes political affairs. It would probably be redlining they came out very strongly in supporting Israel so you wouldn't find in the Jewish community -- they wouldn't commence a it -- long for example. For Israelis -- be allowed to country. -- been that would be -- it would cross. We have several questions from -- can we continue from here or you have other questions from outside. -- -- -- OK they're cutting. Majority -- You are there Muslim countries at least. Our nerves -- -- -- split. Please rule. -- local option orders. People. It wouldn't spirit in structure -- -- states. -- -- did you hear the question about it -- you can perceptions -- there must sort of regional Muslim countries such -- Saudi Arabia Egypt. Turkey and its asset are Sunni Shiite prism through which these countries are viewed or are out. How how -- -- -- hear them you know. -- -- -- not very -- handling I think this year and he. You're implying he never. Yeah it's it's been you know because. If you are -- sort of been ordered -- if you're just sort of a general orthodox Sunni. And here in Iran. You know you would be very different -- Romo scene you know some straight somehow they're minor differences between is indeed she is listening to pray with their arms folded. A -- -- with their arms -- their side if they notice you know in a predominantly Shiite country if they notice that you are Sunni. It would actually be more open to -- I think despite knocking you know it's not like they're -- next -- this -- beginning. -- that aspect winning an older -- it comes down she should the political differences. That the Warren group that it Shiites hearing Brian I would say in a general sense. Had very harsh opposition to. It is a group known as the salukis. Sometimes called what problems which are generally patients -- in Arabia. The Shiites hate them. I know be open about the -- you know Michael Holmes -- do not like. If you know because they don't like lions or sell it piece by extension they don't like Saudi Arabia. And there is generally room. Animosity between the -- And we we have about five -- and so -- can we may be asked to mark questions. You know -- -- by beefy guys want to go over your time limit and that's your next class that's fine but does it. I want. It's. -- -- -- -- -- Curious what it's -- An average consumer goes to. Address. -- acts like carrying. -- stance or its us. -- You personally S immigrant residents -- CE. Experience this. Did you get a question. -- these communities. Yes. The opening up Kentucky fried chicken and whether policy -- sort of major political. -- and let it going to. Establishment like that is perceived as a political actor when it's just merely your satisfying your most. Basic needs. This your home isn't. Maybe there it is not political -- -- -- -- it's not believe it is just not satisfying -- and needs. So. How or to what extent are for example American TV shows and movies show and I'm. You know what are some of the more popular American TV shows right now for the -- -- Twenty year old crowd. There's a good question what T -- -- We don't get much of American television here we have we get some -- Yes but. The television American television nice hardware so there are -- by NBC news have released. Broadcasting company but. But -- But yes. He's from. T. d.s TV I chose from. Latin America. From Brazil. Just an impetus. And -- Yeah -- the -- Internet -- download them if I'm in Washington not this ours I pursue my loved that house of cards. Have you with an update resident -- Yes if you watch that episode number two or three there's reference to our college. And not not about the student editorial some -- and editorial got into political trouble thirty years later. McClellan didn't dredges are famous. Wouldn't you wolf good to China. I can't answer the TV question but when it comes to music Iranians listen to all sorts of American music. They're there they're really cute it's it's a good review if look at music gets this. Everybody loves a -- yeah like that mr. Well I'm afraid to know we really have to wrap up on this sad and -- -- very much appreciate. You taking the time to. Answer our questions and or ABC crude -- -- to facilitate this and this has been very very helpful and interesting to us and we'd be more than willing to do this again. Know whether it's that other students and -- -- -- other -- but thank you so much for taking -- time to meet with us today. They should -- -- camera one last -- -- we can also thank you in person. It's it's it's -- -- third. Sorry we couldn't see each other and we were talking. But it's it's a good way for us to communicate. And thank you so much for having been it's been our pleasure thank you so much you know -- --

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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