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Anti-Afghan Sign Just the Latest Discrimination in Iran

By INU Staff

INU - Iranians and Afghans have been expressing their outrage on social media after video footage of a racist sign, displayed at a shop in Nazarabad, Alborz, went viral.

The sign read: "The entry of Afghans into this store is forbidden because I do not like them."

The shop owner, who has not been named, was subsequently arrested and given a suspended jail sentence. He was also ordered to issue a formal apology to the Afghan community, provide discounts to Afghan nationals for three months, and research the “friendship” between the two neighbouring states, which have deep cultural, linguistic, and historical ties.

Prosecutor Ruhollah Ahmadi said on June 8 that the shopkeeper expressed his “regret and remorse” for “his ugly act”.

Of course, this sort of racism towards Afghans is far from an isolated incident in Iran.

The roughly 1-3 million Afghan migrants and refugees living in Iran experience mistreatment and discrimination on a large scale, with many forced to work in menial jobs and blamed for crime and drug trafficking.

In December, a video of an Iranian police officer slapping, insulting, and humiliating a group of Afghan migrants went viral and prompted much anger.

While back in 2012, Afghans living in Isfahan were banned from entering the mountainous Sofeh Park during Norouz festivities by city officials in order "to ensure citizens' welfare". This was roundly condemned by Iranians on social media.

Media depictions

In March, an Iranian television series, named Forbidden, garnered widespread criticism for playing into stereotypes of Afghan migrants as poor, uneducated, and inferior.

While a 2016 show, Outbreak, was criticised for spreading hatred against

Afghan refugees as it featured a storyline about an Afghan man carrying a biologically engineered virus into Iran on behalf of the United States.

As a result of widespread racism, Afghan nationals are often forced into the worst jobs, including being recruited into the Regime’s proxy forces in Syria and the Middle East as a whole; risking their lives for citizenship.

Human Rights Watch has documented a long history of violations against Afghans in Iran, including:

• physical abuse

• detention in unsanitary and inhumane conditions

• forced payment for transportation and accommodation in deportation camps

• forced labour

• forced separation of families

Many Afghans moved to Iran during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the civil war, and after the Taliban took power, hoping to make a living, despite widespread reports of violence and injustice.

Afghans are still denied basic services, including access to health care, jobs, and even housing.

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