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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 April 2006, 14:23 GMT 15:23 UK
Iranian diaspora: Shappi Khorsandi
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Shappi Khorsandi
Name: Shappi Khorsandi
Age: 30
Lives: Ontario, Canada
Works: Student

My father is a well-known Iranian poet and writer and we first came to Britain in 1976 because of his work.

It was only supposed to be for a year or two. My father wanted to get rid of the shah and supported the revolution.

He thought anything would be better than the shah - how wrong he was.

Just before 1979 my father went back to Iran on his own. He was very popular in Iran and wrote articles and jokes criticising the ayatollah.

One day, he found a rent-a-mob outside his offices calling for his death. He was declared an enemy of the Revolution by the ayatollah and he had to flee the country.

We thought at first that we would be able to go back to Iran. But, as a child, I remember we would get phone calls threatening our father. We finally became refugees, which is when it really hit home that we needed to abandon the idea of returning.

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We could never mention it at school. I know families brush stuff under the carpet but Islamic terrorism? We even had to check under the car for bombs, as if I would know what one looks like.

When I got older, I started in comedy. Humour is such a huge part of my family culture - I was praised more for making people laugh than for good grades.

Still, I did grow up with a strong sense of feeling isolated from mainstream British society. Iranian culture was everywhere in our home, the only place for me that was English was school.

I feel that Britain is my adoptive parent. If I say "I feel Iranian" it does not mean I don't love the UK - it's just that no matter how much you feel part of an adopted family you know you are from somewhere else.

I have not been back to Iran since the late 1970s as it is not safe for us, but I travelled to Abu Dhabi recently and while on the plane we flew over Iran. I got very emotional - it is my country and yet I cannot go.

The language is also important to me. My boyfriend is learning Farsi and when I have kids I want them to speak it.

At first I was adamant I wouldn't talk about Iran in my work - but comedy is such a personal thing.

Recently in my act, I have been talking about [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad. When he talks about wiping Israel off the map I feel it is such bad PR for us. We need a new regime - some "Mullah lites" if you will.

The current situation there is hard, but however much Iranians may hate the regime, when push comes to shove we will unite.

There is that feeling of you hurt us, we hurt you - it's a bit like people are like with their football teams.

Maybe Iran is like my own football team.




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