The empty slogan of Islam Has No Boundaries

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By Jawad Rahimi Translated by ARAM
The concept of “boundless Islam” is a familiar slogan known to politicians, reporters and the people of Iran. But this slogan has a particular resonance with the Afghans who fled the war in their country and immigrated to Iran in the 80’s. Beyond commonalities of a shared culture and language, Afghans who escaped the bombings and turmoil in their homeland and fled to Iran were arguably lured by this message that Ayatollah Khomeini popularized following the Islamic revolution in Iran.
Despite their perilous journeys across the borders and dire conditions of refugee camps, Afghan immigrants continued to pour into Iran for the promise of life in a county ruled by a Muslim spiritual leader. When Iran engaged in war with Iraq, it did not hesitate to deploy Afghan refugees from eastern borders to the frontlines of war on its western frontiers. These refugees also willingly participated in Iran’s defense and put themselves in harm’s way.
But as the war with Iraq ended a new conflict was brewing in Afghanistan, propelling many Afghan nationals away from their homeland. Many refugees took the message of Ayatollah Khomeini to the heart and sought refuge in Iran, assuming that the new Islamic Republic of Iran was a boundless haven for all Muslims. Perhaps their settlement in the beginning was filled with optimism and hope. But it didn’t take long before it became evident to the refugees that the Khomeini’s message of of “boundless Islam” was just an empty promise and set up for a series of misfortunes that would follow.
Today, Afghan refugees in Iran, even those who have served the country at times of war are deprived of basic necessities. Many are unemployed or underemployed, banned from access to education, face exorbitant costs for health care or are denied insurance, they are banned from right to marry Iranian citizens and deprived of other opportunities. Could it be because Islam has no boundaries? Jawad Rahimi is a writer, freelance journalist and human rights activist of Afghan origin.

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