“Tehrangeles” Rises Against Anti-Muslim Ban

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Daliah Setareh was one of the thousands of Angelenos who protested this week-end at the Los Angeles airport against the anti-refugees and anti-immigrants ban signed by Donald Trump on Friday afternoon. This Jewish woman from Iran was also part of the hundred of immigration attorneys here to help travellers facing trouble to get in the U.S.

“Some people need assistance right now, we’re here to help”, said this lawyer who already advised some of her clients not to travel in the coming weeks. She also discouraged her brother, born in Tehran, to leave the country for a trip in China as she fears he could have a hard time getting back home. Her brother’s home is the L.A. neighborhood nicknamed “Tehrangeles”, an area located around Westwood Boulevard and the UCLA campus, where a large community of Iranian-Americans lives. Los Angeles, and more broadly Southern California, is the home of the largest Iranian population outside of Iran, possibly comprising between 300.000 and 500.000 persons according to some estimates.

This means a lot of families are already affected here by the executive order that bans entry to the U.S. to the citizens of seven countries, essentially muslim, which are Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Trump’s ban – consistent with his campaign’s promises – also targets refugees in general, which seems out of place in a state that welcomed them in the highest numbers.

As a reaction, an impressive crowd of protesters was waving welcoming signs directed to refugees and immigrants, during protests that continued until Monday. “We are all immigrants, we are all refugees”, wrote Heidi Gordon, a Jewish woman from Santa Monica with relatives who died in the Holocaust.

“My great-grandfather was too old to escape Europe at the time, and he died there in a camp”, she says, still “in shock” after the order announcement last Friday. Heidi came with her husband Len, and her two sons, Julian and Lorenzo. “My father left Germany in 1939 and came here in Los Angeles”, tells Len, who has a Lebanese muslim friend and feels like “people are manipulated to hate each other”.

“It is our first protest since the election, but it is deeply personal”, said Heidi.

People who came at the LAX protests were from all types or origins. There was these brother and sister from Wisconsin, Ethan and Andrea Kirshner, this young Palestinian woman from Riverside, Amal Ali, or this entire hispanic family from Boyle Heights, the Montes.

“I have a message to the world here, said Ethan Kirshner: give us some time, we will fix this, we will not let that happen. Trump doesn’t represent us or the American people”, he added with confidence. Whoever the businessman represents is hard to find in California, but in spite of this, Ethan and his sister don’t believe the Golden State should leave the United States, like some suggested. “We will fight for our country”, Ethan said.

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