In L.A.'s 'Little Persia,' Iranian-Americans split on Clinton v. Trump

In L.A.'s 'Little Persia,' Iranian-Americans split on Clinton v. Trump... 11/08/2016 Politics

Keywords:#American, #Barack_Obama, #California, #Caucasian, #Community, #Donald_Trump, #Farsi, #Ghorban, #Hillary_Clinton, #Iran, #Iranian, #Iranian-American, #Islamic, #Islamic_Revolution, #Jewish, #Jimmy_Carter, #Little_Persia, #Los_Angeles, #Middle_East, #Muslim, #NIAC, #National_Iranian_American_Council, #Obama, #Obama_administration, #Persia, #Persian, #President, #Revolution, #Saffron, #Shah, #Tehrangeles, #UCLA, #USA, #USA_TODAY, #United_States,

Kimiya Manoochehri, USA TODAY 3:36 p.m. EDT August 10, 2016
Despite his stance against Muslims and immigrants, many in the "Little Persia" section of L.A, support Donald Trump's bid for president. USA TODAY's Kimiya Manoochehri reports. Jefferson Graham, USA TODAY
Dr. Afshine Ash Emrani believes a plurality of Persian Jews in Los Angeles will vote for Donald Trump(Photo: Jefferson Graham)

* * * LOS ANGELES --- In spite of the heated rhetoric about immigration and banning Muslims which has defined the campaign, in the largest Persian community in the country, the 2016 vote for president is still divided.
Traditionally a left-leaning community, Republican Donald Trump has found a surprising advantage among Iranian-American voters USA TODAY spoke to here. Trump’s perceived strength and assertiveness in dealing with the Middle East is resonating with the generation of Iranians who came to the United States as refugees.
Sami Mostafazadeh, a Trump supporter and recent immigrant who is himself Muslim doesn’t like Trump’s stance on immigration. But he isn’t threatened by it because he doesn’t believe that Trump will enforce a change in immigration laws. “I don’t think in practice he can do anything about the immigration laws.”
And when it comes to foreign affairs, he doesn’t support President Barack Obama or former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s policies about the Middle East. “I think before they came to power, Middle East was a much better and safer place, too.”
The streets of Little Persia here, also referred to as “Tehrangeles,” are lined with bookstores, eateries, salons and various shops, mostly all advertised with signs and posters written in Farsi. The Persian enclave of Los Angeles is walking distance to UCLA.
The Census Bureau’s Annual American Community Survey put the Iranian-American population in California at 215,000 in 2012, but the National Iranian American Council lobbying group says the number is under-counted by two to three times, because many Iranian-American's choose "Caucasian" or "Other," when filling out surveys.
The NIAC says 87% of the roughly 1 million Iranian-Americans are registered to vote.
When USA TODAY visited recently talking to voters, choices were split down the middle.
Despite the support for Trump’s foreign policy stance, it can’t be denied that the Republican nominee for president is steering away his minority-voting base with his proposed ban on Muslims and plans to surround the country with a wall to keep immigrants out.
“I’m Republican, I prefer Trump for economic reasons,” said Todd Khodadidi, who runs the Tolchin Market on busy Westwood Blvd. Regarding Trump’s stance on immigrants, however, Khodadidi acknowledges that, “Anti-immigrant-wise, no I think It’s not fair.” ;r=x408&c=540x405/local/-/media/2016/08/08/USATODAY/USATODAY/636062828115514182-DSC08297.JPG
Iranian-American actress Nelly Valentino is a Hillary Clinton supporter (Photo: Jefferson Graham)

* * * But shopper Nelly Valentino, an Iranian-American actress who will appear in an upcoming "50 Shades of Grey" sequel, said she was a big of Clinton. "It's just time for a woman president."
Dr. Afshine Ash Emrani, assistant clinical professor at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine, recently wrote a hotly debated article for the Jewish Journal entitled, “10 Reasons Persian Jews Support Trump.” He says that despite Trump’s inflammatory and “idiotic” language, the candidate will still get strong support from the older Iranian immigrant community, because they feel he’ll be stronger when standing up to Iran than Democratic candidate Clinton.
Emrani says Iranian immigrants blame the Democrats going back to President Jimmy Carter in 1979 for overthrowing the Shah and instigating the Islamic Revolution. They also cite Clinton’s involvement in negotiating a nuclear treaty with Iran and the Obama administration’s recent payment of $400 million in cash to the Iranian government. “We feel that Trump attacks the Islamists head on, and addresses those issues, versus Clinton…I feel that the older generation leans toward Trump, that would protect against those kind of actions.”
But Morad Ghorban, Director of Government Affairs and Policy at the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans predicts that the Iranian-American community, which includes Muslims, Jews and members of the B'hai faith, will vote for Clinton.
“As a general trend more Iranian-Americans view themselves as Democrats than they do as Republicans.”
He feels that the evolution of the Republican Party’s anti-immigrant stance is driving minorities who may otherwise vote conservatively toward the left.
“This is a fairly new phenomenon as far as how Republicans are viewed by Iranian-American communities, it used to be a party that was friendly to immigrants. Now it seems like it’s the opposite. That factor alone has turned off a lot of immigrant communities including the Iranian-American, the Indian community, and the broader Asian-American community.” ;r=x408&c=540x405/local/-/media/2016/08/08/USATODAY/USATODAY/636062831875030479-DSC08304.JPG
Farbod Papen, a co-owner of the Saffron & Rose ice cream parlor, doesn't like either Trump or Clinton, but will vote for Clinton reluctantly. (Photo: Jefferson Graham)

* * * Farbod Papen, co-owner of Saffron and Rose Ice Cream in Westwood, is reluctantly voting for Clinton.
“I was born and raised here, never been to the Middle East, I actually identify myself as American. I do respect my cultural roots, I do speak the language, I do celebrate the holidays, but at the end of the day you know my passport says I’m from the United States. And even though my grandparents were immigrants, at the end of the day even if I was 100% full American with no roots to anywhere, I would still vote against Donald Trump.”
Many people touring the streets of Little Persia in the August afternoon remained undecided. “Trump, it’s true that he was never in politics, but I think he’s more honest than Hillary Clinton.” Shrugs Moe Alborzian, “There’s no choice.”
And Emrani, despite his public stance about how he thinks many area Jews will vote, isn't going in the same direction. “I lean more toward Hillary Clinton myself, although I’m no fan of Clinton by any means. I just cannot see myself supporting a crazy candidate like Trump.”
---Despite stance on immigration and Muslims, many in community still support Donald Trump ---

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