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Next stop, Canada, in new wave of emigration from Iran

Tehran, Iran: City Theatre. Pahlavi era archit...Image via WikipediaBy Farshid Motahari Mar 21, 2011, 4:07 GMT

Tehran - There is almost no time when people get together in Tehran that migration to Canada is not discussed.
The North American country has turned into the new Garden of Eden for those who see no future in their homeland of Iran.
'I am done with my homeland, which I used to love, and I want to continue my life living in a place with no restrictions and gender discrimination,' said Haleh, a 30-year-old chemical engineer in Tehran who plans to leave for Toronto in the summer.
She is not alone in her frustration. The number of Iranians seeking a new life in Canada has increased by at least 30 per cent in the past 20 months, according to several agencies in Tehran dealing with migration to Canada.
Observers said one of the main reasons is the June 2009 presidential election, which was overshadowed by fraud. Street protests against the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were violently suppressed along with any hope of change in the Islamic state.
A sociologist in Tehran said the enthusiasm before the election and the hope that Iran would move toward democracy has turned into frustration, prompting the younger generation in particular to consider leaving.
'What we witness now is the emigration of young and educated people who see no more opportunities in Iran,' the sociologist said. 'They do not want to waste themselves here but seek a new start in a country like Canada, where they believe their potential could be realized.'
The first emigration wave from Iran happened in the years after the 1979 revolution and the establishment of its clergy-ruled Islamic republic.
The destinations then of those countries.
According to officials, 5 million Iranians live abroad, but observers said the number is even higher because their children born abroad are not necessarily registered in Iran.
A university professor in Tehran questioned how aware these offspring are of their origins. 'They probably do not speak Persian, either,' the educator said. 'They are Iran's lost generation resulting from the country's situation in the last three decades.'
Canada has emerged in recent years as the new destination for emigration. Because of its selective criteria for immigrants, mainly educated and professionally qualified Iranians are allowed in.
A census back in 2006 put the number of Iranians who have migrated to Canada at 92,085. The number is said to be more than 250,000 now.
Because most of the Iranians prefer to settle in Toronto, the city has been nicknamed 'Tehranto.'
One of the new aspects of migration to Canada is that Iranians moving there are not necessarily motivated by money because many enjoy a good standard of living in Iran.
Ali, a 43-year old doctor, and his wife had a good double income and a comfortable life but still decided to move to Toronto.
'I love Canada because every attempt of mine at being happy is not discouraged or dissuaded, disregarded or dis-whatevered,' Ali said.
Mohammad, a dentist, has had his own clinic in Tehran and believes that his income at home would be more than in Toronto, where he is planning to go soon.
'I can earn money in Iran, but what I miss is simply having choices in a country with no choices, either political or social,' he said. 'It's not a place where I want to spend the rest of my life.'
Many Iranians planning to go to Canada saw their political choices ignored in the 2009 presidential election and their protests violently suppressed.
'If I vote for different people and political parties and even if they lose, I still expect them to be active as an opposition and not suddenly removed from the political scenery,' said Farinaz, a 37-year-old architect, who also wants to migrate to Canada.
She was referring to the two main challengers to Ahmadinejad in the election. They have been branded by the government as 'Western mercenaries and agents,' prevented from taking party in political activities and put under house arrest since last month.
Iran's generation under 35 faces numerous social restrictions, especially in contacts with the opposite sex.
'Socially, we have no choices either because we either have to get married or be preached at that having fun is immoral and having passion a sin, which even leads to earthquakes,' said Maryam, a 28-year-old student who has applied to migrate to Canada.
She was referring to a sermon last year in Tehran in which Ayatollah Kazem Sedighi said that social immorality, such as improper women's clothing and sex outside marriage, increases the probability of earthquakes.


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