Photo of Tina Gharavi just before she left the Iran during the Islamic Revolution for the UK

I am a Foreign-born Geordie Refugee

(Originally published: 11, July 2016 in Northern Correspondent)

I have lived here for the past 20 years, arriving from New York to Ashington (yes, feel free to laugh… I sometimes do!)… Before that I was a refugee who arrived in Britain following the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979… I have travelled the four corners of the earth since then… Yet, this place, Newcastle, has become my one true home; my North Star.

I am not a journalist. This is just my story.

The referendum was bittersweet. It was good to see wide sections of the country participating in the electoral process. But the vote seems to have confounded many. What were people really voting for and what were they voting against?

I am an outsider but having lived and worked with some of the most disenfranchised young people and communities, I could see and feel their mounting anger over the years.

I saw and understand what the disenfranchised voters were saying. They are frustrated. And they have pointed at the immigrant, the refugee, and said that we caused all this. I am so sorry because I know this is not true. That in fact, rather than being so far apart, we, the refugee and the dispossessed working class, are closer that we realise. We are united by our struggles: we are both voiceless, marginalised, and abandoned by those who should care for us.

I have seen the transformation of the mood of the nation to immigrants and refugees. A manipulation led by the media and fed by opportunist politicians.

I was here to witness the rise of the scapegoating of immigrants. A lie fabricated and spun that this island was being invaded. There is only one place where I lay blame for the outcome of this referendum and the rise in racism in this UK and this is the un-checked, propagandistic jingoism of the media. Led mostly by the agenda of Rupert Murdoch, ironically, an immigrant himself.

But then Murdoch is in the newspaper business, not in the truth business. He tells us to fear. Tells us that the source of all problems is… people like me. That blame should be placed on those coming from outside… not the Eton set and the class warfare that has gone on for generations. No one in the media seems capable of articulating to a working class readership that the economics of austerity are driven by the fallacies of the Tories who seek to privatize and reduce services for those with the greatest social needs.

This is why Northern Correspondents, and a free and reflective press is now needed more than ever. It needs to appeal to a wide readership. I hope it can… because without media, there is no meaningful democracy. And without the media, I can’t win my home back from the clutches of xenophobia and hate.

I am a refugee, I lost my country once… I am damned if I will lose my country again.

I am a proud adopted Geordie. I will fight for the North… And I will fight for my home.

Originally published:

Tina Gharavi, Filmmaker & Associate Professor, Newcastle University
Twitter: Gharavi
For more info about my work see:

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