Personal Reflection on Roxana Saberi and Esha Momeni's case


Goudarz Eghtedari
by Goudarz Eghtedari

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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more from Goudarz Eghtedari

Dear "Goudarz Eghtedari",

by MiNeum71 on

Thanks for sharing your interesting and well-written observation.



Thank you for sharing your prespective

by aynak on


It is exactly what I was thinking as parent of kids that are still not

at an age to  make this type of decision.   But I always thought if

we do a good job of educating our kids, they would want to go back

and show similar interest to what Esha or Roxana have done.   I am happy

that this all ended in a good note.   Iran is far all Iranians, and we can

contribute so much from a more plural view and also a different work

ehtics that prevails in many of the countries we live in.


A Confused View!

by Kurush (not verified) on

"Children...who learned to repect their elders, thei traditions..." I am not sure how Roxana was respectaful given the fact that she was caught buying alcohol, certainly unlawful in Iran, whether or not one approves of it; and to have continued her journalistic activities even after her crecentials were cancelled 3 years ago! The jury is still out on the espionage matter, but, prima facie, it does look like she was not innocent. Why was she not respecting the law of the land? Why did she not set an example to obey the laws and then tell her story to the rest of Iraninas who do want to find their identity and homeland, or even to emigrate back to Iran? The IRI message is undiluted, and please respect it: your are more than welcome to come to Iran, Iranian or not, but make sure you mind the IRANIAN laws, and by the way, throw off your Western baggage. Simple enough. Can we not consture Saberi's behviour from a different prism, namely, by flouting the local laws & showing disrespect, she has now damaged the prospects of return for many a hoepful Iranian. In short, she acted very very irresponsibly. The author's grievance & lamentation hold no water.


In Search of Identity

by hossein.hosseini on

Goudarz Jaan, Excellent perspective.  You are absolutely right. The new generations of Iranian Americans while easily mingling with their ‘native’ counter-parts are always hungry to find their roots.  That normally happens at teen-age years.  I saw this in my own kids. As parents, some of us are just as guilty for not guiding them.  I remember being at an event where some young people talking about their Persian Heritage and saying something to the effect that "our parents idea of Persian identity is having a Persian rug and a samvar at home, yet they know very little about Khayyam or Ferdousi or Persian history'.  Thank God for those writers who translated the work of great Persian poets, philosophers into English.  Today because of the work done by the likes of Roxana Saberi, more and more Iranian American kids can see and understand their Parents' history.