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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 April 2006, 14:12 GMT 15:12 UK
Iranian diaspora: Sara
MEET THE PANEL
Sara
Name: Sara
Age: 44
Lives: London, England
Works: Accountant

I left Iran in 1977 in order to study at the age of 16.

When I arrived here it was all fine back home. Then, three years later, came the revolution.

My parents begged me to go back as they were not able to fund my studies through the black market, but I stayed in London.

I got jobs as a waitress or a cashier while I was studying for my university degree. It made me strong and I managed to pay for some university fees, room and board and I survived.

I had no idea people could apply for refugee status.

I was actually born in Iraq but at first my siblings and I could not go to normal Iraqi schools as we had Iranian documentation.

The Iranian Embassy in Baghdad had opened an Iranian school. We attended the Iranian school in Baghdad.

The Iranian government paid for our books and uniforms. If there was any political trouble with the Shah, the Iraqis would stone our school.

As Iranians we faced prejudice in Iraq. My cousin was beaten to death simply for being Iranian.

So I am always reminding my daughter to be grateful for what we have, for one day you never know what will happen - just as in Iraq.

IRANIAN DIASPORA VIEWS
I have done the same for my daughter - I sent her to Iranian schools in London and she knows the language. She also goes to Iranian restaurants with her friends and I cook her Iranian meals.

We do not mix a lot with Iranians here, although there is a large community, but every Iranian New Year we go out. I clip articles about Iran from magazines for her to read, so she knows about her heritage.

Now, she wants to become a human rights lawyer.

She has also been to Iran and loves it, although she had to wear a headscarf. When we were there it kept slipping off her hair and I kept having to tell her: "Keep your scarf on!".

Feeling lost

Still, nowadays I feel lost somewhere between England, Iraq and Iran.

There is always the fear that we are living for today, especially with the current Islamphobia in Europe. Often now I do not say I am Iranian as I fear the reaction of people.

Unfortunately, people judge you from what they hear in the media, even though my character is more European than Iranian.

I would love one day to go back to Iran. I feel very homesick for my country and would like to do voluntary work or to teach if I can.





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