Iranians aren’t all like their leaders

VILLANOVA — Iran is not what you think it is.

That was the message author Mahbod Seraji had for the more than 750 students and administrators who packed Villanova University’s Connelly Center Tuesday night to hear excerpts from his book, “Rooftops of Tehran,” this year’s selection for the college’s “One Book Villanova” program.

“I’ve read so many books about the Middle East, and in every one of them, the men all have 43 wives, they make them chew on rocks as punishment, they force them to wear veils, and they let them have no rights — and the only way they can be truly happy is to move to the West,” Seraji said. “That’s not my experience in Iran.”

Born in Iran, Seraji moved to the United States in 1976, just prior to the start of the Iranian Revolution. Tuesday, he told his audience he was shocked to see the seemingly overnight transformation in relations between Iranians and Americans.

“When I first got here, I went to a car dealer, and when I told him I was from Iran, he high-fived me, asked me if my father owned oil fields, and told me I could have any car on the lot,” he said. “Going from that to, all of a sudden, being thought of as a hostage-taker or a potential terrorist — that was hard to deal with.”

While working his way through college — “The advantage of not being able to go home was that I kept getting degrees,” he said — Seraji had what he called his “It’s a Wonderful Life ... >>>

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