Story of Roxana Saberi has another angle that is mainly ignored by political pundits. She and her father resemble many many Iranians in Diaspora.
For us the first generation Iranian émigrés it is a dream to raise a child that has any interest in Iran and anything Iranian. I know Iranian American parents who refused to speak Persian to their kids in the 80s with the fear that if they speak about their heritage in their school they will be harassed like their parents experienced back then. I know parents who justified this by saying “we do not want our kids to be confused, we do not identify with that regime and the country anymore, we are now American, why should we want our kids to go through the same painful experience?”. This was more apparent in life of those who had migrated right after the revolution, either as forced exile or just because they were here and did not go back. This generation of Iranian Americans felt extremely hostile toward the IRI and since could not separate the country and its new rulers, did not want to have anything with the land, period.
Over the years next wave of immigrants came who had lived under IRI, and had less hostility, as time passed this group dominated the scene, started cultural groups, and sociopolitical gatherings all over the west. Persian Sunday schools popped up in any congregations of Iranians abroad and especially in the US, Canada and major European cities. Children were now exposed to language and learned to honor elders, respect their heritage and traditions, etc. Now we have something to identify with, our children too. The 90s brought sense of pride in majority of Iranian émigrés; they cheered Iranian soccer teams, attended Persian music concert in large venues, and gradually found their place in the landscape. Children grew to introduce themselves as Persian or Iranian fearlessly. We started to point at TV proudly saying “she/he is Iranian!”; journalists, writers, politicians, artists, TV anchors, even astronauts, and so on and so forth.
I am sure that for Reza Saberi it was a great moment when her daughter who was born abroad told him that she wants to go to Iran and see the country on her own. It must have been a great time to see her writing, and hear her reports aired on BBC and NPR. I for one would have dreamt about it if my daughter was reporting from Tehran.
Now, I know many Iranian kids born in the US that are living and working happily in Iran, while their parents can not stand a moment of it there, or are not allowed to enter the country. These kids are living their dreams with identity they have never found here and as proxy of their parents dreams. It is from that angle that I can never forgive the Islamic Republic’s Intelligence Ministry and judicial system for ruining the dream not only for Roxana Saberi or Esha Momeni, but also for thousands of other Iranian kids in Diaspora who were seeing themselves in the country and their parents.
I only hope that IRI does not hunt these kids to get even with us the parents.
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