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Diaspora

Goodbye Iran!
All that is left is anger

By Anne Irani Abadani
February 18, 2004
iranian.com

I know that I am inviting angry and hate-filled response from some of the readers of Iranian.com., if you publish this. I don't care, though.  Nothing can hurt me or my children, anymore than we've already been hurt. So please, print the nasty and hurtful comments which they will send. Let them tell me that I deserve to have my children spurned. Let them call me a whore and a bitch for having the nerve to marry a foreign Muslim. Let them say what they wish, for no Iranian can hurt me anymore. As far as I'm concerned, the moment that my baba passes away, Iran will be dead to me as well.

Iranians, the good ones anyway, need to know the truth about how our country rejects some of its most innocent little ones. The truth must be told about our nation's leaders who hide behind our religion and hurt little children... little Persian children...  by falsely claiming that Islam sanctions such behavior. Any society should be judged on how it treats its weakest and most helpless members...its children. Let the good people of Iran be the judge.

There are few things in my life that are more precious to me than my beloved Iran.  Our religion, our language, our poetry, our music, our history, our food, our love of family and friends... all of these things tie our hearts, minds and souls to the land of our birth. I, however, have come to a difficult and painful decision in my life, and that is to soon bid Iran and everything Iranian goodbye forever.

Why would I do such a treacherous and ignoble thing you may be wondering?  The answer is simple: My beloved Iran has made me choose between it and something which is more precious than it to me... my children.

I spent the first nineteen years of my life growing up in the most special place in the world... Abadan.  Although I am well into mid-life now and I have travelled the world over, there is no place that I have visited or will ever vist that is more special than my childhood home...Braim. 

Although all the people that I grew up with are scattered throughout the world now and the places that are so much a part of me like Roya Girls High School, and the Golestan Club are now faded memories, I still often dream sweet dreams at night of my youth in Braim.
How then is it that I would willingly turn my back on our country, our heritage and our people? 

I am not the one that has rejected Iran, but to the contrary, it is Iran that has rejected me... and mine,  just as it has rejected the children of tens of thousands of Iranian women who find themselves in my situation.  My husband is a Muslim... my husband is a Haji, no less; One would think that these are two criteria of importance to the current masters of our nation, but sin of all sins he is not an Iranian and consequently according to Iranian law neither are my children.

Is this just?  Is this right?  When an Iranian man marries a foreign woman, not only are his
half-Iranian children granted Iranian nationality, but so is the foreign wife.  When an Iranian woman marries a foreigner, not only is her husband considered an alien in the eyes of Iran's masters, but so too are her children.  Please tell me if I am wrong, but the Iranian DNA contribution to the children of a mixed marriage is only 50% regardless of whether the Iranian parent is male or female.

I have been told that this distinction, this inequity (the difference in the legal status between the children of Iranian men and the children of Iranian women) is based upon Islamic law, but when I have asked Iranian authorites to show me in the Holy Quran where God has decreed such a distinction, or where in the Hadeeth of the Prophet (PBUH) such a distinction has been ordered on Muslim women, the authorities have not been willing to accomodate my request.  

The reason is that there is no such Islamically sanctioned discrimination against women or their children.  It boils down to Iran's leaders punishing Iranian women for having the nerve to marry a man from outside our nation, even if he is a Muslim man.  All the talk of Muslim brotherhood is a load of bull.  Iranian leaders don't give a damn about Muslim brotherhood.  What they want to do is control Iranian women and if they can't do they that, then they hurt them in the worst way possible....by legally rejecting their offspring.

My children, who have visited Iran more times than they can count, speak, read and write Farsi as well as their father's lanaguage.  They love Norooz, Hafez, Googoosh, Chelo Kabab, Doogh and everything else that I have exposed them too over the years.  They feel every bit as much Iranian as I do, notwithstanding the color of thier passport.

I have endured the indignity over the years of having to have my father in Tehran formally invite his own grandchildren to visit him, through the Foreign Ministry in Tehran. This has been a hardship on him because he is quite old and must go fill out a lot of cumbersome paperwork each time I want to visit with my children.  Moreover,  with each visit I have to obtain costly toursit visas for my children, since Iran regards them as "foreigners".

An Iranian father of half-Persian children never suffers such indignities because his children are considered Iranian "citizens" and given Iranian Passports.  Such a father neither has to have a male relative inside Iran invite his children for a visit,  nor does he have to pay for tourist visas.  It matters not where he is traveling from, Tulsa, Tahiti, or Timbuktu, he simply goes to the airport with his children and they fly away to the Land of Fars.

After accepting so much humiliation for so many years, I have decided that I won't accept Iran's harsh and cold treatment of my children anymore.  My children don't deserve to be hurt by the country that they love so much.  Why, you may be wondering, am now complaining?  Well, I will tell you.  

Recently, my husband and I visited the Iranian Embassy in the country in which we live to get a Tourist Visa so my son could fly Iran to spend two weeks with his Baba Bozorg during his Spring Break from school.  Of course,  my father had completed all the necessary documents weeks before in Tehran, so there was no trouble getting my son's visa, with the payment of over $100 of course.

While there I asked the Consular Officer how my children could visit Iran when the time comes that my baba will no longer be around to "invite" his grandchildren.  The Consular Officer said that any male relative in Iran could issue the "invitation" at the Foreign Ministry.  I then told him that I was an only child, as was my father and that my mother only had sisters living.  He said that it would be difficult to issue a Visa in such circumstances.  

I then asked him if I could "invite" my children and he said, "No, you are a female".  I responded, "A female yes, but more importantly, an Iranian citizen."  He said that under the circumstances, I would probably be allowed to issue the "invitation", but that I would have to travel alone to Tehran to complete the paperwork for my children and then they would most likely be able to follow me after 4-6 weeks.

Then, I asked the Consular Officer if my children would be able to visit my grave in the future if I were buried in Iran? (I have always told my husband that should I die before he does to please take me back home to where I was born, even if it means that our final resting places are not together.  My husband has promised that he will do this if he is able.)   The Officer said that my children would never be allowed to visit my grave since they are "foreigners" and there would be no left to invite them to Iran.

My blood began to boil. I sharply and curtly reminded the gentleman that my children had 1000 generations of Persians flowing through their veins. He calmly stated that Iranian women who marry outsiders deserve the harshness of the law. When I asked him why Iranian men married to foreigners don't deserve the harshness of the law, he said, "That's easy, they're men."

This man's comments cut me to the core. I understand now that Iran will never accept my children. I have invested so much of myself, and my time in trying to develop my children's pride in being Iranian...in our langauge, our customs, our music, our literature...everything. It has all been for nothing...just wasted time and empty effort. Our nation will never accept my children or the children of the tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of Iranian mothers in my situation.

I have cried a river tears since my encounter with the Iranian Embassy officer, but now I have no more tears left. All that is left is anger. Anger that my country and my countrymen would hurt my dear children. Anger that my Persian blood which courses through my children's bodies is not Persian enough for Iran's Islamic masters. Anger that Iranian men married to foreigners do not suffer the same indignities that we Iranian women are subjected to. Anger that I won't know how to answer when my children want to know why Iran rejects them. Anger that my children have develped a deep love for a society that won't love them back.
Goodbye Iran! You don't deserve the love of my children or the children of the many other Iranian mothers like me.

Goodbye Iran! I love my children more than I love you.
Goodbye Iran! You have forced me to choose.
Goodbye Iran! They win and you lose.

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