This post was was originally shared over at desertmannequin.
As an Iranian with U.S. citizenship (I’m having a really hard time calling myself American these days), I count myself amongst the “lucky” individuals to not be directly impacted by Trump’s recent immigration ban (so far). However, I feel the rippling effects of this ignorant and bigoted executive order when skyping with my mom, who lives in Oklahoma, and is dreading the profiling and questioning that she will likely endure at the airports after her upcoming visit to Dubai next month.
I see it all over my Facebook feed via my Iranian friends who share the horror stories that their friends and family are experiencing at the moment. From back “home”, a soon-to-married close friend’s Iranian in-laws can no longer attend their U.S. wedding, to the one who happens to be a permanent resident, living and working in the States for the past 12 years and cannot go visit her family, nor can they come visit her. These stories are all heartbreaking to me in particular because it’s my fellow country mates being affected by a country whose very existence is based on religious and racial freedom. There is a lot of confusion and chaos, and while I pray and hope it won’t last, it is important to understand how this ban is impacting the lives of our peers, be it American or foreign, Muslim or not. So I reached out to three of the fiercest Iranians I could think of, Parysatis Peymani, Farnoush Hamidian, and Hushidar Mortezaie.
Parysatis is of French, Iranian lineage, blonde haired, and green eyed. She also speaks better Farsi than I do. She is a fashion creative at the Ykone Agency in Dubai, and runs ruerumi.com, where she spotlights both her French and Persian sensibilities. Her aunt, and much of the Persian side of her family live between San Francisco and Los Angeles, and because of this ban, she now cannot visit them.
Zhila Shariat: Do you have any desire to travel to the U.S. now?
Parysatis Peymani: No, and I’m not sure I ever will! I feel sad, angry, ashamed, and outraged (amongst many other things)! I’lI never [understand] the current state of the U.S. mentality, even if I’ve happened to admire a lot of what the nation once stood for – the pursuit of the dream, the never give-up mindset, but is this still relevant?
ZS: How has this ban impacted you or any friends/family?
PP: It has, and a lot! I can’t go to the U.S.! I can’t visit my family members. My grandmother, father, and whole French-Iranian family cannot go visit my aunt or any of our relatives and that’s something we’d never thought was even possible in this day in age. My sister just came back from an internship at the French embassy in NY. Imagine if she had to go back and wasn’t able to because of her [Iranian background].
I am a blonde haired, green eyed Persian-French girl that looks anything but Persian. So when it comes to racism and fascism I rarely experience it, to be honest. The only times I have faced discrimination was upon openly mentioning that I am as equally Persian as I am French! Because I physically don’t match up to racial stereotypes, it’s something I never encountered first hand. But now for the first time in my life, I am now experiencing what it means to be rejected because of your blood, your family, your DNA, and race, something that no one chooses, and happens to be proud of. Given the current state of affairs, I’m prouder now than ever before to be Iranian.
There are 300 Iranian scientists at the NASA, Los Angeles is called “Tehrangeles”, the Fields Medal last year was given to a young Iranian woman! There are so many reasons to let us be free and part of a nation that once celebrated that.
We also spoke to Farnoush Hamidian who is an Iranian architect, poet, and international model who has been featured in Vogue and Marie Claire and poses for Dolce and Gabbana and Fendi among others. She currently resides in Germany, and has many friends and family members in America, whom she now cannot visit. She spoke proudly about the many successful Iranian scientists and politicians in the U.S., like former Obama political aide Ferial Govashiri and Beverly Hills Mayor Jamshid Delshad, but has been shaken by Trump’s decision to ban Iranians from entering the U.S.
Zhila Shariat: How is the ban impacting you personally? Did you have any travel plans that you now have to cancel?
Farnoush Hamidian: Yes, I just signed a contract with Brave models in Milan, and my contract is a worldwide exclusive with them. They will send me all over the world for work, and now if they want me to travel to America for fashion weeks or other projects, I can’t go, and that’s very disappointing.
ZS: Any insights from friends and family and how it’s affecting them?
FH: One of my cousins studies at UCLA, and her sister wanted to pay her a visit, had the visa and bought the ticket, and now she can’t go. What makes it worse is that my cousin can’t go back to Iran either because as soon as she leaves America, they won’t let her in again because of this new law. She also happens to be married to a sweet American gentleman, so it’s a mess.
ZS: Can you share how this ban makes you feel and how it reflects on America?
FH: It makes me feel like the world is blind and we are still living in the age of HITLER. What Donald Trump has done is not Nazism or just racist, its Fascism, and a really dangerous one!
Hushidar Mortezaie is an Iranian artist and fashion designer, known as “Hushi”. He got his start working for Patricia Field, and his designs have been seen on the likes of Beyonce and Madonna. Born in Tehran, Hushi has been living in the United States for the last 42 years.
Zhila Shariat: Has the recent immigration ban affected you or any of your friends/family?
Hushidar Mortezaie: Yes, it has affected friends who were traveling for art exhibitions, and workshops, now they are stuck in countries they don’t call home, separated from family, loved ones,their homes…their lives uprooted and banned without notice. This is happening to many friends. Also both close family and friends have to cancel trips to Iran, from Iran to the US, and travel between other nations. Many depend on these trips for livelihood and to see elderly family who can not travel…especially when time is precious. It is greatly affecting Iranians on a large scale.
ZS: As someone who was raised in the U.S., how does the ban make you feel?
HM: Heartbroken, Unwelcome, Outraged. It is unjust and unconstitutional like a cancer that suddenly reared it’s ugly head at a stage 4 level. Iranian cultural icons like Asghar Farhadi are deemed terror threats, affecting the morale of an entire nationality. It targets individuals who contribute to the world and have built the US into a much greater nation. A stark difference to the land of nightmares being realized by those who support and created the Ban.
ZS: How do you see this impacting the world?
HM: It will spread hate through Islamophobia and racism towards those with Middle Eastern [backgrounds], further stoking the fires of animosity towards fellow human beings. The Ban has been fabricated by the current office in the U.S. for shock power, to scapegoat Muslims and Middle Easterners,to stage attacks in the west to blame innocent nations and nationalities…all of it to start wars and bring their vision of chaos and greed to life. It is all a horrific distraction to further insidious goals without the world watching.
ZS: I agree, it’s really terrifying and surreal. What do you think will happen long term, or even after the initial 90 day period ends?
HM: I have no idea and my fear is that this will be made permanent, but we must all stay focused, vigilant, and make our voices heard by all the necessary means to revoke the Ban and bring it to court because it is illegal.
ZS: You created an amazing poster for the Women’s March, can you talk about what it means to you?
HM: Wars manufactured and waged are a constant threat in the Middle East, destroying the lives of innocent Middle Easterners and thus, the world. This only makes the corrupt more powerful with hate, violence, and greed as their weapons. Women are leading the resistance against the ignorant and the backwards, flailing for a last grasp at a dwindling patriarchy, irrelevant to modernity. We all stand together in strength and beauty to fight for justice, the global citizens united in peace for Peace. We Are One, and yes we will.
ZS: I love the contrast between how beautiful the image is but also how ominous it feels. Tell me, what has it been like living in Trump’s America?
HM: Uncertain and frightening,It’s only the second week.I have personally had many days and nights of anxiety and worry, weakening my spirits.Yet there is a camaraderie that is occurring bringing together many of us as we recognize what is important and that we are all in it together. Divisions must fade and I pray we will make core values of inclusivity and equality our goal, although we face an extremely difficult struggle ahead.
ZS: Any additional insights or stories from friends/family in Iran or elsewhere that you want to share?
HM: Iranians have survived centuries of conquest, scattering families apart, only to remain stronger and illuminate the darkest of ages. Share your stories and the beauty of your culture. History repeats itself…stay strong and stay true to the original Executive order by a great Persian leader Kourush, who brought the world the first Declaration of Human Rights… good deeds, good thoughts, good words.
Hushi, Farnoush, Parysatis are just three examples of people whose lives and careers are being affected by the immigration ban. There are countless more stories being shared every single day, and I can only hope that it will be overturned soon. I want to end with a quote by Persian poet Rumi that Parysatis shared with me: Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I will meet you there.