SearchTales From Tehrangeles - The New York Times

Tales From Tehrangeles - The New York Times...
nytimes.com 06/12/2015 Culture

Keywords:#2015, #Ahmadinejad, #Azadi, #Azadi_Tower, #California, #Fars, #Fars_News_Agency, #Iran, #Iranian, #Los, #Los_Angeles, #Mahmoud_Ahmadinejad, #New_York, #New_York_Times, #Norway, #Nytimes.com, #Persian, #San_Francisco, #Tehran, #Tehrangeles, #Times, #Turkey, #United_States

By JAVAD PARSA DEC. 5, 2015
Los Angeles is home to the largest Iranian diaspora in the world.

Faz Poursohi and his wife, Fariba, enjoy a day by their swimming pool, with their daughter Bahar. They live in Danville, Calif. Mr. Poursohi is a chef and the owner of four restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has been in the United States since 1974. Credit Photographs by Javad Parsa

* * * IN Iran, where I was born, there are two kinds of journalists: those who work for the government and those who try to work independently. In 2005, I became a staff photographer at Fars News Agency, which is closely affiliated with the government. As I traveled across the country taking pictures, I had a growing sense that photography was not only a profession, but also something that required great courage.
In 2009, during the presidential elections, Fars assigned me to follow the incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on the campaign trail. After he won a widely disputed victory and protests surged on the streets, I was stunned when my bosses forbade me to take pictures of the gatherings. Despite their orders, I took photographs of silent demonstrations, Dumpsters on fire and people running past burning buses, and smuggled them out to international publications. One image — of a woman in front of the Azadi Tower with her arms outspread making the peace sign with each hand — was chosen for the cover of Time magazine. Within a few days of its publication, the managing director of Fars threatened to brand me a spy and to testify against me. A few weeks later, I fled first to Turkey, then to Norway as a political refugee, where I have been ever since.
In 2013, as part of an assignment about Iranians abroad, I traveled to Los Angeles, home of the largest Iranian diaspora in the world. There, and elsewhere in California, I met generations of Iranian immigrants who shared the goal of a better life nurtured by social, political and religious freedom.
I believe the state is a popular destination for Iranians because the constant traffic jams, warm climate and rugged, mountainous terrain remind us of home. Along Westwood Boulevard, hub of the local Iranian community, almost all the signs hanging above the shops are in Persian. I felt as if I was strolling again on one of Tehran’s main streets, which I have longed to do ever since I left.
Although we all have different reasons for leaving, everyone I spoke to hoped one day to return home — but to a country where we can vote in truly democratic elections, dress the way we like, choose our own religion and speak, and photograph, freely.
---Los Angeles is home to the largest Iranian diaspora in the world. ---
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