Iranian reflections on the death of Qasem Soleimani
U.S.-Iranian relations were thrown into turmoil after Major General Qasem Soleimani was killed by an American drone strike in Baghdad on Jan. 3. To the U.S., General Soleimani was a vicious terrorist responsible for the death of Americans, but to the Iranian people, he was a war hero who defeated ISIS numerous times in Iraq. His death drove people into the streets of Iran to mourn and to express their anger towards U.S. aggression.
Retaliatory efforts by the Iranian government soon followed General Soleimani’s death. On Jan. 8, Iran launched missiles toward two U.S. military bases. These attacks resulted in no casualties at the bases, according to remarks made by President Trump. However, one of the Iranian missiles struck a Ukrainian airliner, leading to a tragic crash. Ukraine’s Foreign Minister reported that all 176 passengers onboard were killed, 82 of whom were Iranian.
“When I was at school with friends, when I was out not with family, I switched to my American identity.”
This latest spurt of violence between the two countries left Iranian Americans fearful of an escalation of aggression.
“The last thing I want is a war to start,” said Amir Zafaranian, a University of Florida student and the son of Iranian immigrants. His family also worries about the potential outbreak of war.
Zafaranian was born and raised in Tampa, where he felt he lived a double life. “When I was at school with friends, when I was out not with family, I switched to my American identity.” However, at home, he was enveloped by Iranian culture as well as its history. “It’s almost like a switch, I’d go back home and be like ‘Oh, I’m home, Persian.’”
The rest of this story will be appearing in issue 18 of Sparks Magazine. This story and the rest of issue 18 will be digitally released on May 1, 2020.
Photos by Laura San Juan