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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 May 2007, 07:28 GMT 08:28 UK
Living with Iran's terror label
What's it like living in a country which has branded yours a terrorist state?

Iran is at the top of the US State Department's list of states which it says sponsors of world terrorism. Fariba Sahraie from BBCPersian.com spoke to Iranians living in North America and found mistrust of Iran is as strong in Canada as the US.

BABAK YEKTAFAR, Editor, Washington Prism, US

Babak Yektafar, Editor, Washington Prism
Babak Yektafar

11 September changed everything, even though there were no Iranians involved.

The media played a very negative role. I know someone who actually changed his name and identity because he didn't want to be identified as Iranian after the media hype post 9/11.

On the other hand, there is a second generation of young Iranians in the United States who are increasingly prepared to acknowledge their cultural identity. They are proud of being Iranian and they are not afraid of showing it.

TRITA PARSI, President, National Iranian-American Council, US

Trita Parsi, President, National Iranian-American Council
Trita Parsi

Branding Iranians as "terrorists" has had a negative effect on our lives in the West.

In the US, for example, university students have problems getting visas.

Many of them will not risk leaving the US to visit their families back home, because they are afraid they may not be allowed back in afterwards.

So they don't leave the US until they have finished their degree.

HOUSHANG AMIRAHMADI, Rutgers University, New Jersey, US

Professor Houshang Amirahmadi, Rutgers University, New Jersey
Professor Houshang Amirahmadi

Nobody likes his national identity to be identified with terrorism.

It's a matter of pride and identity and many Iranians in the US feel hurt when their country is branded as "terrorist".

The US administration has been calling Iran a leading sponsor of terrorism for several years now.

But Iran has not been involved in any terrorist outrage against the West anywhere in the world.

The accusation is more about propaganda than anything else.

SOHEIL PARSA, theatrical producer, Canada

Soheil Parsa, theatre producer, Canada
Soheil Parsa

What I find strange is the way they don't differentiate between the people and the state.

It's totally unfair to hold an immigrant group responsible for the actions of the government of their home country.

As a Canadian-Iranian who has lived in this country for 24 years, I can honestly say I don't have problems within the artistic community.

However, outside this circle we all have issues. We have to prove that we are not terrorists all the time.

TAKIN AGHDASHLOU, university student, Toronto, Canada

Takin Aghdashlou, university student, Toronto
Takin Aghdashlou

When I first moved here six years ago, I quickly became aware that many people in Canada look at the Iranians in their community as terrorists or fundamentalists.

For a while, I would deny our Iranian roots to save us the trouble of having to prove ourselves and win people's trust.

AREF MOHAMMADI, film critic, Toronto, Canada

Aref Mohammadi, film critic, Toronto
Aref Mohammadi

Our people have always been damaged by allegations of terrorism, whether they are artists or otherwise.

Nobody likes to be branded a terrorist. There are several Iranian artists living abroad whose careers have been damaged by such claims. Many have been forced into early retirement.

Our actors, producers and directors are finding it extremely difficult to find work in their host countries because of these allegations of terrorism.

ALIREZA HAQIQI, political analyst, Toronto, Canada

Alireza Haqiqi, political analyst, Toronto
Alireza Haqiqi

Iran has been at the top of the list of so-called state sponsors of terrorism since 1999.

The western media are feeding the frenzy but interestingly, the US State Department is contradicting itself.

On the one hand the official policy of the US government is to wage war on terrorism. This same US government has Iran at the top of its list of so-called "terrorist" states.

Yet instead of waging war, [US Secretary of State] Condi Rice has said that US government policy towards Iran is not based on overthrowing the country's regime.

Meanwhile, the two countries are talking about how Iran can help the US to stabilise Iraq.

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