Monday, August 29, 2016

Persian Letters

'I Am Also An Afghan' -- Iranians Condemn Racism On Facebook

Iranians protest against the banning of Afghans in Isfahan from a public park on April 1, also known as Nature Day. One of the signs reads, "I Am Also An Afghan."
Iranians protest against the banning of Afghans in Isfahan from a public park on April 1, also known as Nature Day. One of the signs reads, "I Am Also An Afghan."
Afghans living in Isfahan were banned from a mountainous park in the city on April 1, the 13th day of Norouz festivities, which Iranian tradition says should be spent outdoors.

The decision was announced on March 30 by Isfahan’s Committee to Facilitate Travel, which said Afghans were banned from Sofeh Park in order "to ensure citizens' welfare."

Ahmad Reza Shafiei, an official with Travel Committee's police department, was quoted as saying that the reason for the move was "the extensive presence of Afghans" at the park in previous years and "the creation of insecurities for families." By that, he meant Iranian families.

But it was Iranians who quickly condemned the decision on Facebook and other social media.

"I am also an Afghan," some wrote as their Facebook status update. Others slammed the decision as "racist" and an "insult" to Afghans living in Iran.

There was also a report of a symbolic protest on April 1 at Sofeh Park.

A picture widely shared on Facebook shows three young men holding signs decrying racism, including one that says, "I am also an Afghan."

This isn't the first time Afghans in Iran have faced discrimination. There are reportedly more than 1 million Afghan refugees and thousands of illegal Afghan migrants in the Islamic republic.

Many of them moved to Iran following the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and the civil war that followed the Soviet withdrawal. Others sought refuge in Iran after the Taliban took power in Afghanistan.

In recent years, reports of mistreatment of Afghans -- particularly against those who enter Iran illegally -- have increased.

A YouTube video making the rounds shows a group of Afghans being mistreated, apparently by Iranian soldiers, who tell the Afghans to hit themselves on the head, perform sit-ups, and say aloud, “We will never come to Iran anymore.”

Iranian officials are quick to remind critics that the Islamic republic has been a generous host for more than 2 million Afghan refugees for two decades, with little help from the international community.

But in recent years, Afghans who have entered Iran illegally have been forcefully deported. Some who still live in Iran say they face legal discrimination and restrictions on their right to study and access public places.

Some Iranians blame Afghans for the spread of crime and drugs while others accuse them of stealing jobs at a time of soaring unemployment.

Despite the difficulties, there are still reports of many Afghans returning to Iran in search of menial jobs that usually hold little appeal to Iranians.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari
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Comment Sorting
by: G from: kabul
April 02, 2012 23:43
I'm ex-pat living in Kabul. Afghans deserve more. Afghani are the most kind, respecting and hospitable people I have ever seen. Unfortunately, since taliban tag is wrongly posted on each afghani, the other world are looking them as terrorists. Forget taliban (i don't know, they may have their own reason), the world should know that these people are completely in contrary to what you call it terrorist. They are peace loving people. What Isfahan has done is simply a racist act. Stop it! I really love this people. Hats off to the Iranian people who condemn this.
In Response

by: ahmed from: HP
April 03, 2012 05:51
Hello G ( from Kabul),
thank you indeed for ___" Afghans are the most kind, respecting and hospitable people I have ever seen--*
i have changed your word *AFGHANI* to Afghans, since Afghani is used for the currency.
One could add that Afghans everywhere have many positive points and an equal amount of human weaknesses, like men and women ,the world over.
Iran is lucky, it is sitting on OIL. Iran is lucky that its population did not have to face 30+ years of internal conflict ; as occured in Afghanistan.
As long as Afghanistan lacks stability, harmony, internal peace and genuine all round economic development, one must expect that many , many Afghans will seek refuge, for a better life, in neighbouring countries. Right now, the graph of illegal emigration out of Afghanistan, the flight of money out of the country---all are on the rise . Its because of the uncertain future ahead, post-2014 .
To call a person a *terrorist* because he is an alien, is grossly unfair. It is unethical to not *love thy neighbour*

I hope G has picked up some reasonable Farsi/DARI !!

by: Anonymous
April 03, 2012 00:47
First of all, they were banned from entering the park only for one day and that was because of security reasons and also the mindset that most of Iranians have toward Afghans.
I don't think that you are going to claim that most of Iranians who are living in Iran kindly welcome afghan nationals into their country?
Second, I don't see any reason for them to stay? If Iran is a such horrible place to live why not to leave?
Third, Iranians are burdening the cost of more than two million afghans who are living in Iran, while mostly not happy about it because of cultural differences. Why you are not recalling the group rape incidents or the fact that many heinous crimes in Iran are commuted by afghans?
It's not the regime or government but also most of Iranian families prefer not to be around afghans specially the days they want to spend out.
Forth, this nonsense campaign started by some worthless report created a racist image of any Iranian who is against the presence of afghans in Iran. While this word "racism" has no ground in this issue.
Social tag of pariah is at the forehead of these people. But of course, couple of journalist "outside" of Iran see everything all rosy and there is no problem with afghans living in Iran illegally and who reject this situation is a racist.
This report has no ground and even making a huge fuzz about it amidst peak of Iranian crisis is something requires rethought to find the real intentions of author.
In Response

by: American Troll
April 03, 2012 06:37
Why type so much when, "For'ners want OUR women" conveys exactly the same message and level of sophistication?
In Response

by: Bilal from: Pakistan
April 04, 2012 18:43
American troll, why bother to comment when you simply don't possess the required intellectual caliber??

Just like *some* Americans complain about illegal foreigners in the US being involved in crimes, and many other countries facing similar problems (e.g. UK has some problems with illegal immigrants from Poland), Iran also has its share of these problems with *some* Afghans.

There have been documented cases of some criminal elements from illegal immigrants being involved in rapes, murders and drugs etc in Iran. I can also quote numerous neighborhoods in Pakistani cities where Afghan immigrants are in majority and these places too have same problems. But it doesn't mean that I am saying all Afghans are like this. And it'll be a whole new level of stupidity on your part to assume so.

So next time before you make a fool out of yourself, I suggest you do some research my friend. Have a good day.

In Response

by: Fatima from: Kabul
April 08, 2012 00:54
Anonymous Iranian!

First of all, I hope you have not been a victim of "the goupr rape" that you claim was committed by Afghans!

Your remarks are not worth commenting on as they lack intellectual grounds. Anyways you are refuting yourself by once saying "also the mindset that most of Iranians have toward Afghans" and then "While this word "racism" has no ground in this issue"!

Your comments simply imply that you want to be the lawyer, the judge and the innocent, an ideal that every selfish living-being would like. The 2million Afghans (your figure) not only labour to feed themselves but also feed the corrupt Iranian police who harrass them everyday on the streets of Iran. Iran has played its part in the distruction of Afghanistan which has resulted in plight of the Afghan refugees. It was Iran that introduced the lingual war in an effort to devide the Afghans in the aftermath of the Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan.That said I do agree, many Afghans go to Iran for seasonal jobs, harvesting and building etc something the Iranians cannot do given their addiction to different kind of introxications. Iranian mafia is actively invovled in the opium production in Afghanistan and of course so is the Afghan mafia.

I was of the opinion that it is only the government of Iran which discriminates Afghans but now I increasingly realise (including from your remarks) that Afghans are also discriminated against by the ordinary Iranians. This might be part of your culture/civilisation...who knows!!!

by: Vahid Qarabagli from: Vancouver, Canada
April 03, 2012 06:54
Racism against Afghans in Iran is not just come from the government. The afghans experience racism by majority of Iranian community. Insulting Afghans and calling people "Afghani" as a word for humiliation is so common.
In Response

by: ahmed from: HP
April 05, 2012 05:25
Vahid sahib,
Xenophobia is something natural to humans ( and animals too).
perhaps it stems from an inner attitude , which does not like * the OTHER* .
The peoples of that part of the world are ethnically , culturally and by history, ver close to each other. Its like being Canadians and US citizens---almost the same folk.
One must work for progress and change----something like what has happened to Europeans since the EU idea has flowered !!

by: Rodriguez from: London
April 03, 2012 14:11
It just seems so convenient to pick up on this issue some days after President Ahmadinejad called for the departure of foreign forces from afghanistan and the necessity to compensate the afghans for all their sufferings in the past decade. Now some moron at the local municipality makes a decision that has nothing to do with the government and VOA, BBC, Radio Farda and all others team up to blow this in the horn. Good Job guys, you couldn't do a better job as cronies and puppets to propagate the policies to promote devisions. Keep calling yourselves "INTELLECTUALS" and "FREEDOM FIGHTERS" but a lot of Iranians including myself who don't necessarily agree with the Islamic Republic are starting to suspect that you are either totally committed to destabilising the region or just too dumb to understand that's the game you are playing. It is just not nice to think all Iranians are imbeciles, we red news and see what happened in Iraq, Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. Just because you oppose something like the Islamic Republic because of its flaws, doesn't make you the good but you could simply be the more evil.
In Response

by: Zeugirdor from: Nodnol
April 12, 2012 03:00
So here comes the savior. That President of Iran is basically signing death-toll contracts for the people of Iran as we flip the pages of history these days. Their last, but not least enemy on the list are becoming the people of Afghanistan, & they're doing a darn good job at harvesting these embargo contracts! Let's all give them a round of applauds. It's quite sad knowing that many these very Afghans had actually ran the front lines during Iran-Iraq war, now becoming their very enemy due to these treatments, racism, & atrocities, which are approached by the very state itself, is shocking & bothersome!
All I see this government doing is preparing a war, where it stands all alone fighting with the rest of the world, & not only the regime itself, but it's very population will be the victims of these bloody wars that will soon rage it's land.

I won't believe it for one second that a municipality would pull a trigger like this on Afghans without the approval of the President, administration above, & Supreme leader himself. Putting this issue on one side of the table, not long ago there was a ban of organ donations to Afghan citizens, by a charity organization, which was approved by these very corrupted regime again? What do you call that one? Another municipality gone insane, & just acted on it's own? Give me a break!

Keep reading those news, soon Iran will be on the head lines, and the war will be watched like a video games, showing their downfall!

No body is saying all Iranians are like that, but you coming here, and trying to spare the regime some slack, & blaming it on the municipality, will definitely make YOU one of them! You might be well aware, & many would know that Iran has 8 different under cover security personnel. So I'm sure those news of the mistreatment of Afghans does reach the Supreme Leader & it's administration by other entities of government before execution, & they let it happen!

Just pray for the innocent civilians, & the fact that casualties of the coming war won't be much. Hopefully this crazy regime, don't pull a suicide act, else it will catastrophic on Iranians!

by: Hazara Afghan
April 04, 2012 09:30
If Iran dont do these things no one does it... I am Hazara Afghan live in the UK and I see alot Iranian who are successful in this country. What do u feel if you see your community stopped from going to school, parks and good places in the UK.
I am against the Irans neuclear moves because they are very dangerous with this weapon... Being HAZARA I do not want to be in Iran for a second because I know I will be treated like an animal.
In Response

by: ahmed from: HP
April 05, 2012 05:14
Hello HAZARA AFGHAN sahib, salaam bar shuma.
I am sorry to read what you write. All mankind is created equal ( at birth ) , it is a lack of compassion and and absence of enlightment which leads to this kind of unacceptable discrimination----we must all work for a change for the better .

by: Afghan from: UK
April 04, 2012 21:55
Iranian government is worst than Hitler. The Iranian obsession of power and old and empty thoughts of Persian empire has made a monkey like Ahmadinejad to feel like a monster. There are many good hearted Iranians but I should say that the treatment of Afghans by the Iranian government is appalling. This government is worse than Hitler and Mouselini. They use holy religion of Islam for their terrorism and humliation of Islam. All Muslims must be ashmed of Iranian regime that lets their mothers and sisters sleep with Arabs for few seconds under the name of temporary marriage. Ahmadinejad and Khamanaei are sons of this kind of marriage
In Response

by: Saman from: Sam
April 05, 2012 02:20
Worse than Hitler? Really? 2 million afghan immigrants living in Iran and we are worse than Hitler? 5000 Iranian border police have died in clashes with Afghan smugglers and we are worse than Hitler? How many of those masses of afghans in Iran are in the country legally? How many of them can show any form of identification? Why the F are you coming to Iran if it's so bad? I am no fan of the regime, but almost all afghans in Iran are illegal, and to support themselves they either work at very low-end jobs or they take part in crime. Let's see how the Brits treat you if you pull the same shit there as your kind does in Iran. Btw, the only religious fanatics I meet in my life are without exclusion either arab, afghani or pakistani.

And that video they refer to is more than two years old and not a big deal (no physical harm), but yes, it is humiliating and wrong. But I guess you prefer soldiers pissing on your countrymens corpse instead? Or just massacring civilians?
In Response

by: ahmed from: HP
April 05, 2012 10:05
Saman sahib,

You will be able to make your points more convincing by using kinder words. Try to understand with compassion.
In Response

by: Hamid from: Kabul
April 08, 2012 01:28
Saman Jan

You seen to have become so emotional on the comments of "Afghan: from the UK" that you have almost lost your senses and therefore couldn't respond with any relevant response.

The guy has not said the Iranian people but "the Iranian government" very clearly. You have misinterpreted that for your benefit becuase what you have written about Afghans is your preconcieved notion of the Afghan nationals.

If you had even a little humanistic sense you wouldn't have written "But I guess you prefer soldiers pissing on your countrymens corpse instead? Or just massacring civilians?" What does that mean? Are you trying to say that the Afghans didn't protest and condemn it? Or you are trying to justify the level of humaliation (in the vedio you are refering to) of Afgans by the Iranians because you imply that Afghans are resiliant to far bitter atrocities than those committed by Iranians (govt or people whoever you prefer to chose)?

The subject of discussion is not 'The Iranian Attrocities against Afghans vs. The American Attrocities Against Afghans' but rather the fact that Afghans (human regardless of their immigration status) are not treated properly in Iran. The Afghans fled to countries like Iran and Pakistan and further to the rest of the world because life was and for many is not safe in Afghanistan. Their legality is not something that only the Iranian can decide in this civilised world. There are thousands of Iranians living out of Iran as refugees because of fear for life in Iran. How do think they should be treated? Yes it's a different thing that Iran is not a signatory of the Geneva convention on Refugees to grant immigration status to refugees but it does in principle recognise the fact that refugees should be given the very basic stay in its country and deny all other rights (education, health and legal). I could further elaborate my comments regarding the legality of Afghans in Iran but I don't understand your intellectual level and fear I may write my words in vain..
Afghans in the UK and in many other civilised countries lead a humane life which is due to the kind of treatement they get.

I have many Iranian friends who worked with my in Kabul and I have always thought about Iranians as very civilised people. But your comments and some others on this article are changing my perception at least that there is a certain segment of the population who think very naively about marginalised human being (Afghan refugees in this case)!
In Response

by: Sadaqat from: Nangarhar
April 08, 2012 01:52
Saman Sam .... you seem to be a die-hard defendentant of the Iranian regime. keep it up but do not get mad. what Afghans see today is partly due to Iran's interference in Afghanistan which destabilised the country to such an extent.

Your statistics are amazing but you didn't mention the Iranian Mafia's invovlement in the drug trade from Afghanistan through to Turkey. You also didn't touch the trade of Afghan human beings by Iranians. There have even been incidents where innocent Afghans were replaced with jailed Iranians who have been given the death penalty.

The best thing I can suggest for you is to do some proper reading or maybe start going to a school before you can comment an issue like the one under discussion. good luck

by: Hero from: Germany
April 04, 2012 21:59
Iran is a hell for Afghans. The government of Iran abuses the issue of Afghan refugees and deports many poor and deprived Afghan workers in the middle of winter each year. The Afghan authorities are silent on any abuse of Afghans by Iranian government. Iranian government boasts of being the pioneer of genuie Islam "Islam Naabe Mohammad" in fact this is the biggest lie. Iran is Shia and it always humilates Afghan Shia Hazaras at all times.

by: Bruce
April 12, 2012 14:44
Unfortunately as stereotypical as it seems to say, when in Iranian social company, especially when there are younger teens and "good looking" girls, young Afghan men/teens, tend to start fighting with Iranians.

This is a fact and happens almost every time when Iranians and Afghans mix. Especially during the sizdah bedar outings.

I come from California and have been on the SB organizing committees for 7 years and each year we hold the event for 15,000 attendees. Of course, we allow and welcome everyne including our Afghan friends.

However each and every year we have had at least 5 incidents that required local police and park rangers to make arrests, to the point that now each year, the authorities make special arrangements for fights and crowd control including increased tazers, and pepper spray, added staff, and "paddy wagons", to subdue and remove the offending parties.

In almost every case, the investigation results recorded that the fights were instigated by Afghan youth.

I spoke to my Afghan friends about this and the unofficial explanation was that Afghans traditionally feel that Iranians "act superior", and so the Afghan youth tend to want to prove themselves physically. Especially in situations where there are a lot of females.

While this is a simplistic and unscientific explanation, it is a fact based on police reports and 7 years of statistics doing this in California.

Even with the inherent experience, not once have we ever thought to exclude Afghans from our event.

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Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.

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