Trump Travel Ban Angers LA's Iranian Community, Disrupts Hizbullah Financing


Members of California's large Iranian-American community expressed shock and disbelief on Monday at President Donald Trump's travel ban, saying it would tear families apart and tarnish America's image abroad, but would also help stop financing for Hizbullah party.

"It's affecting everybody from the community because everybody has family and friends that have been coming back and forth from Europe and all over the world to America," said Alex Helmi, sitting in his carpet store in Westwood, an upmarket Los Angeles neighborhood dubbed "Tehrangeles."

An estimated 300,000 to 500,000 Iranians live in southern California, many of them in "Tehrangeles," and Trump's executive order has had a chilling effect on the community.

Fahrad Besharati, who runs a travel agency along Westwood Boulevard, where almost all the signs above the shops are in Persian, said his phone has not stopped ringing since Trump's order came into effect on Friday.

"We had a disaster in the last couple of days," he said. "People are not able to come back.

"We have tried to explain that this is a temporary measure but they say that 90 days is not temporary, they say 'we're gonna lose the lives we have here'."

He said the spouse of one of his clients had traveled to Iran to see family and had been unable to return.

"He doesn't know if his wife can come back and they have children. It's tragic," Besharati said.

He said he had also received calls from students pleading for his help but had little to offer them in terms of hope or assistance.

"One of them finally arrived yesterday but another one was not allowed to board her plane," he said.

Leila, who did not want her family name to be used, said she still shudders at the thought that her father, who arrived back in Los Angeles just after Trump signed his decree Friday afternoon, could have been among those detained at the airport or deported.

"He said 'I think they shut the doors after me'," she recounted as she shopped for groceries.

She said an 82-year-old woman in a wheelchair had not been as lucky as her dad and was deported back to Iran.

"What is the danger of letting in a grandma that came to visit her children?" the 45-year-old angrily said.

She added that she knew of numerous others Iranians affected by the decree, including a woman who was traveling to Los Angeles for her mother's funeral and another whose father was undergoing heart surgery.

- Fear leaving the country -Ali, 42, who has dual Iranian-American citizenship and also did not want to give his last name for fear of attracting the attention of US authorities, said he now fears leaving the country and not being allowed back in.

"I wanted to go for the Persian New Year to visit my family but now I don't know," he said, adding that he also feared a backlash from the Iranian government against dual nationals like him.

Many of those interviewed said Trump's actions may play well among some voters, but will harm the country's standing on the world stage and deter people from traveling to the United States, even for tourism.

They also note that no Iranians have been implicated in any recent terror attacks on US soil, and that countries whose nationals were involved in the September 11, 2001 attacks -- like Saudi Arabia, Lebanon or Egypt -- were not affected by Trump's order.

The countries included in the ban are Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Libya.

Ali said it was ironic that many recent attacks on US soil were homegrown, and pointed to the January 6 deadly assault at a Florida airport by a 26-year-old Iraq war veteran that killed five people.

But despite all the outrage at Trump's actions, Besharati said the travel ban could help disrupt the financing of networks such as the Iranian-backed Hizbullah.

"There are rich people coming from Iran with millions or billions of dollars and they spend $500,000 and get a Green Card," he claimed. "These are not regular people who come for education or work.

"These are the people protecting Syria and Hizbullah."

Helmi said while he understands that strict vetting measures are needed to ward off those intent on inflicting harm to America, he hoped democratic principles would prevail.

"America is the land of freedom," he said. "All the religions here live together and respect each other and respect democracy."

Comments 21
Thumb Mystic 31 January 2017, 08:47

Traitors/Shah worshippers say disruption, even though the travel ban applies to them too.

Missing 31 January 2017, 09:46

Traitors to whom? They care about their countries. In their cases US and Iran. They rightly consider the regime in Iran and the Hizbs ad leeches.

Missing 31 January 2017, 09:48

The traitor is the Hizb and you who sold their country to an apocalyptic group in Iran and a leader that think that he is the representative of God on earth.

Missing 31 January 2017, 09:49

And we have tens of thousands of Iranians in Vancouver and most think the same way.

Missing 31 January 2017, 09:50

And no ... They do not want the shah back but in a choice between the shah and the Mullahs, they will take the Shah

Thumb Mystic 31 January 2017, 10:34

Trump could've spat on those Western loving traitors and they would've thanked him for it.

That is the difference between Resistance and being a slave to the Capitalism.

Thumb jaafar.ibn.iblees 31 January 2017, 09:59

Are those two dead shia terrorists in your avatar affected by the U.S. ban on iranians?

Thumb liberty 31 January 2017, 22:31

lol lol lol

Thumb gigahabib 31 January 2017, 10:51

So money from Iran for Hezbollah has to go through the US now? Who is fooled by this claim?

Thumb Mystic 31 January 2017, 12:27

Just the same as the propaganda about Latin American countries financing.

Thumb gigahabib 31 January 2017, 15:44

Lol. Tell us how the "Hezbollah Brigades" did the Quebec attack again.

Thumb gigahabib 31 January 2017, 16:42

The problem is that the main sponsor of world terrorism/Salafism isn't banned, which makes it suspicious.

Thumb Puppet 31 January 2017, 17:37

I respect Mr. mega Saturn because he knows who the main sponsor of terrorism is.

Thumb shab 31 January 2017, 17:43

I already like this ban

Thumb shab 31 January 2017, 17:49

"She said an 82-year-old woman in a wheelchair had not been as lucky as her dad and was deported back to Iran.! shuu ? Her dad?

Thumb popeye 31 January 2017, 23:27

why all this uproar coming from the shias regarding this ban. You chant death to amreeka and amreeka is the great satan so why would you be angry at such decision. Why would you want to go there? You should be happy that Trump is banning you from entering the USA.

Thumb popeye 31 January 2017, 23:46

and you know what is even funnier is that Iranian officials said this ban is an insult to Islam but questioned why KSA was not included in the ban. So, if KSA was included in the ban the Iranians would no longer consider tha ban an insult to Islam. LOL

Thumb popeye 31 January 2017, 23:57

do you guys recall when mowaten said he was offered the U.S passport but he declined and said he would never set foot ever again the United States.:)))!!!

Thumb liberty 01 February 2017, 00:20

mowaten of Iran works at a gas pump in Dearborn, MI that was bought by hezbollah money. He sits at the cash register all day and when he is not talking to customers he posts on naharnet.

Thumb liberty 01 February 2017, 00:23

*with hezbollah money

Thumb warrior 01 February 2017, 01:07

same story with gigahabib and aliases. They all live in the USA and scream their heads of death to the USA.