Yesterday I was informed that I am not allowed to attend a workshop because it is held in Fermilab and I am an Iranian! I am the only one among all the speakers of the workshop who is excluded because of my citizenship. Less than a week ago my husband was informed that he is not allowed to apply for a scholarship from NASA not because he is a foreigner but because he is from an unfriendly country! I am practically not allowed to go to any conference outside the US because I am Iranian and I have chosen to study in the USA. I am not allowed to see my father while I am here because he is an Iranian!
My friend can hardly visit his wife, let alone live with her because they are Iranian students. Our friends who went back home this summer to see their families havenít been able to come back to continue their studies yet, because they are Iranian. My friendís mother hasnít been able to see her only grandchild at all, and now the child is 5 years old and it is just because she is an Iranian woman and her daughter has chosen to study in the USA!
So I wonder, what is the cost of higher education! How far can we go in this game of being abused and discriminated against for science and how far can they go, playing the role of our Gods? Do we have any better alternative? I guess it must be better than staying in Iran if so many of us are willing to go through so much trouble,* sacrifice our rights, bear the humiliation and come over here!
Are we the ultimate lovers of the science, prepared to pay any price for it, or is it just that we have gone through so much in our homeland that we still like it better here?
Of course it isnít that if we go back to Iran this discrimination wouldnít affect us anymore. Not only do they put sanctions on the sale of simple up-to-date technology to Iranian experimentalists and not let papers from Iran be published in American journals, they also interfere with Iranís theoretical science affairs with others as well. For example, I was talking to an Argentinean scientist who had traveled to Iran once for a cosmology workshop and he was telling me that although he likes attending conferences in Iran, each time he enters the US, because of his trip to Iran, he has to go through a lot of harassment, so he is not sure if it is a good idea for him to visit Iran for a second time. Each time the US decides to attack one of Iranís neighbors, international conferences or workshops in Iran get cancelled as everybody is scared to travel to the region!
What drives me so crazy is when Bush goes on saying how they are a friend of Iranian people and Iranian students and are trying to help them to get their freedom back. I know that most politicians lie to people, and he has proven to be one of the worst liars for his childish case for attacking Iraq, but still telling people lies straight in their face while you are doing the exact opposite in front of their eyes, thatís really absurd!
*Finding someone who is willing to give his/her credit card number, so we could pay for exams and application fees which are very expensive in Iranian currency, making few trips to foreign countries to take the exams and apply for a US visa, running after professors for few months to write recommendation letters (a standard procedure in most countries), in the case of boys, waiving military service so they can get out of country, Öand believe me each of these is quite a project for itself!