I am a refugee
I am a Citizen of the United States. I wasn’t born here. I am an immigrant. Though it didn’t feel like it back then, but I can say now, I am one of the lucky ones. I migrated from Iran. My family found it difficult to continue our lives as Jews in Iran, so to give my borhter and I a better life, my parents decided to leave. We lived in Vienna, Austria for a year while we were waiting to recieve our refugee Visas. It seem like forever back then. My brother and I were teenagers. We had nothing to do. We couldn’t go to school and just waiting around was driving us crazy. So we picked up a few news paper routs with a newspaper. Even though working helped keep our minds off of things, I remember vividly, it wasn’t a pleasant time. At the time when other kids were in highschool and planning their future, our lives were in a limbo.
We weren’t the only ones. There were 3 other families in our building alone that were religous refugees from Iran, all with kids our age, some of whole are still good friends of mine. The waiting was difficult but seeing other families who came before us made it worse. Not knowing when we were getting the visa, not knowing IF you are getting visa was taking it toll on all of us, especially my parents. They sold almost everything we had and packed the rest into suitcases which we were living off of during our stay. There was no place to go back to if we didn't’t get the visas.
I will never forget the day we got the call. They firm that was helping us with our visas called and say we are going to America. It was one of the happiest days of our lives. We finnaly were able to restart our lives. It was a moment of pure joy when we said goodbye to our hellish lives in an endless limbo and got on the flight to Los Angeles. When we landed, there wasn’t a red carpet on the tarmac, but there was a defenite of feeling of welcomeness in the air. Adjusting to the new life was hard, but it didn’t matter, we were in America now and were starting our new lives.
Today, 17 years later, United States in my home. I realize the other day that I have spent most of life in this country than I have in the country I was born in. United States has given me more opportunities in my life than my own country would have ever given me. I didn’t become Steve Jobs, but I had the freedom to practice my religion freely and then, after I grew more intellectually aware, denounce God without fear of being stoned or prisoned. The fact that I can decide to lead my life every which way I want, made me feel fortunate. It made me feel previlaged… until today.
Today I feel sadness, today, I feel shame. Today I think of thousands and thousands of refugees who got that phone call that they were going to America that their lives is going to change and with one flick of the pen from an uninformed ego0maniac, the doors were shut in their faces. This is not the same America that welcomed my family and I 17 years ago. The #muslimband in no way, shape or form is going to (or could ever in the past) stop terrorism in our country. Contradictory to what President POTUS said in the press conference, the terrorists that attack us on 9/11 and San Bernandino were not from any of the countries that are banned today. No terrorist has ever come from Iran. Irregardless of what the government of Iran does, Iranian people are not terrorists, they are victims of an oppression. My family and I were victims of the oppression and that is why we left our countries and that is why Syrian refugees, Iraqi refugees and every other refugee from the area is leaving their home. They are in need of help and support from the rest of the world and shutting the doors in their faces is NOT the way to keep America safe and if Donald Trump attended enough of his security briefings he would have known this.
Iranian people are peaceful people. I single them out for two reason, one because I myself am from Iran, and two, this morning I learned that the Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi will not be allowed in the United States to attend the Oscar ceremony despite the fact that he was nominated for an oscar. Farhadi not attending the Oscars is not nearly as bad a Syrian family waiting to come in the United States, however, I found this a good opportunity to voice our concerns and bring attention to the fact that the #muslimban is a racist and xeniphobic act and must end TODAY!
I call for Martin Zandvliet, Hannes Holm, Martin Butler, Bentley Dean and Maren Ade to boycott the 2017 oscars. I know attending the Oscars is a once in a lifetime opportunity for a lot of people, but wouldn’t be grand if you took this once in a life time opportunity and voiced your opposition to racist act?
I am talking directly to the foreign filmmakers nominees: The only reason you are able to attend the Oscars, beside your amazing talent as a filmmaker, is that you are not a citizen of a country affected by the #muslimban. Your peer, Asghar Farhadi cannot attend the Oscars simply because he was born in a different country than you. How would you feel if that was happening to you? How would you feel looking at his empty chair on the Oscar night? Again, this is not nearly as horrific as a refugee family who risked their lives to move to the United States and are now shut out. If you, all of you, voice your opposition to the #muslimban it will be make a difference.
Remember, it could have been you.