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How Iranian Americans Are Responding To Tensions With Tehran


We have been reporting extensively on the growing tensions between the U.S. and Iran. There is a group of people for whom these tensions hit particularly close to home. According to the census, nearly half a million people of Iranian heritage live in the U.S., and almost half of that group lives in Southern California. In fact, Southern California is home to the largest Iranian community outside of Iran. And we were curious about how that community is reacting to the events of the past week, so we've reached out to Reza Goharzad. He hosts the show "Politics And Society With Reza Goharzad" on KIRN. It's a weekly call-in show that focuses on politics in the U.S. and around the world. And Reza is with us now.

Thanks so much for talking to us.

REZA GOHARZAD: Thank you for inviting me to your show.

MARTIN: So listeners can call your show and ask questions. Just what have you been hearing in the past week about what's happening between the U.S. and Iran? What is on people's minds?

GOHARZAD: There is two kind of idea about Iran and the war. Some people, they're worried because they're concerned any kind of war, people die no matter from United States Army or Iranian people or Iranian army. Because the war bombs - they don't have a zip code. You will kill a lot of people that they are not in the war. So it bothers a lot of people that the fight will be happening between two countries that they are in love. One is their homeland. One is the land that opened a arm and gave them the situation that you can live in this country. So that's a really interesting position - to decide what side you will be.

But, in other hand, there is always Iranians in the Iranian community that they are looking for any kind of action can eliminate Islamic Republic and replace different government. So they will go back home, or they will end the Islamic Republic.

MARTIN: So, you know, you were mentioning that there are lots of different opinions in the community. What are some of the dividing lines, as you understand it? Do you think that it's mainly generational - that the older people feel one way and the younger people feel differently? Or is it why you came or when you came? Like, what are some of the different ways that the opinions tend to divide?

GOHARZAD: Yeah. Mostly, you will see three generation in the United States. The first generation - they came after Iran's revolution to save their life and live in the different countries. Second generation, that they were living in Iran, but based on the pressure because of the political situation, government arresting a lot of people that they are opposing the government - that happened in '80s - they are the mid-generation. Then there is a generation that's born in United States, and they have some kind of peace value in their mind. They're not thinking like the other generation. The first generation - I don't want to, you know, label them, but because they lost what they have, they belonged to the previous regime in Iran, they think the only way back in Iran is with the foreign force like United States.

MARTIN: What about the sanctions? I mean, President Trump said this weekend - when he was headed off to Camp David, he said that he was going to impose more sanctions on Iran. What are people saying about that?

GOHARZAD: Some people, they thinking the sanction will bring the government down. The other people, they think that sanctioning Iran will damage more regular people's life. This is the war. The sanction is some kind of economic war. So war started long time ago based on the economy.

MARTIN: And finally, before we let you go, you know, in - there have been times in the past that Iranian Americans have mobilized, you know, despite the fact that - as you said, that there are lots of different perspectives about the relationship and how it should proceed. But most recently, for example, there were - Iranian Americans were organizing around opposing the Trump administration's efforts to make it harder for people from predominantly Muslim countries to come here - the so-called Muslim travel ban. Is there any sense, do you have any sense that the community is mobilizing in any particular way now, as these tensions are rising? Or is it just too soon, and people just aren't sure - aren't really sure what to do?

GOHARZAD: For the majority of the people, it is not time yet. Everything is just going back and forth. One day, they're attacking. Ten minutes later, they said, we stopped the attack. So people, they don't know what's going on. But still, in majority of the community, you are mostly against the war, no matter from each side.

MARTIN: That is Raza Goharzad. He hosts the show "Politics And Society With Reza Goharzad" on KIRN in Los Angeles. It's also known as Radio Iran. He also hosts a television show which is seen in Iran.

Reza Goharzad, thanks so much for talking to us.

GOHARZAD: Thank you for inviting me and having me on your show. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.