Free to criticise Iran?

    In the UK I do not have a voice, just as I did not have one back
    home in Iran. The difference with living here is that I am not
    persecuted for the way I think; whereas I spent eight years in an
    Iranian prison for not being a Muslim and for believing in equality
    of sexes and human rights.

    Actually, the reality was and is harsher than that. In Iran I
    was persecuted for simply being female whereas I am not persecuted
    for being a woman here.

    In the UK I can use my imagination freely without fear of being
    found out, arrested and executed. Here I can go out with a man
    without fear of being stoned to death. This kind of freedom is
    great for those who think I came here for that – but I want much
    more.

    I want full freedom; the freedom of speech I do not have. I go
    to see plays like Guantanamo Bay by Victoria Brittain and Gillian
    Slovo and see how some people are free to show only one side of
    cruelty. I write articles about Islam’s brutal side and send it to
    newspapers but my pieces are not printed.

    In the UK what kind of freedom do I have? Is my lack of freedom
    due to the fact that I am a classless, status-less person who did
    not suffocate on her way here?

    No matter how much Tony Blair – the great warrior of his time –
    is proud of his country as a place that upholds and values its
    citizens’ human rights, he is still responsible for violating human
    rights. His government supports the Islamic regime of Iran. After
    all, we are living in a global era and that means if human rights
    are violated in one country it is not only down to that regime’s
    policy, it is also because the support these regimes receive from
    Western governments.

    It is not only the Islamic regime that should be blamed for the
    treatment of a 16-year-old Iranian girl who was executed last
    November because of her “inappropriate” behaviour or for the many
    other men and women in prison waiting for their turns to be stoned
    to death. The Western governments who claim Iran’s Islamic regime
    is a moderate one are responsible too.

    Some UK politicians believe that people born in countries like
    Iran do not deserve more, and that if they move to Britain they
    should not expect anything else. After all if refugees have a
    critical voice it would undermine some politicians’ arguments.

    Refugees do not enjoy the freedom of speech they want, but other
    people have the freedom to talk and write about them in negative
    ways. If refugees could answer every article or speech against them
    then perhaps there would be less racist attacks against
    refugees.

    Writing about my life has been like pouring water on my burning
    rage. I realise the kind of freedom I, as a refugee living in the
    UK, have and this is the freedom of imagination. And that feels
    great.

    Nasrin Parvaz is an Iranian refugee.

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