November 4th marked the 25th anniversary of the hostage crisis in Iran. A quarter-century after reactionary students seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, and held 52 Americans hostage for more than a year, I am again reminded of my own, all too early introduction, to hate, xenophobia, and violence.
You see, on November 4, 1979, while walking home from school in a suburb of North York, with my sister and two female cousins, a group of older boys from the junior high surrounded us and began yelling: You eye-ranian's took them hostage… now we're gonna take you hostage!
Newly arrived from Iran, we could not figure out what these boys were talking about, but we knew that they were becoming more agitated by our silence and confusion. My sister began shouting in French at one of the boys, who was now pulling rope out of his hockey bag: Nous n'avons pas fait, imbecile! (We did not do it, stupid!)
To make a long story short, the boys were not bilingual, and we were tied up to the fence in the back of our apartment building for about three hours, before my uncle spotted us from the balcony.
While the four of us were tied to the fence, my sister, who was nine years old at the time, kept trying to explain to us that the American embassy in Tehran had been taken over. I was five-years old, and was not even listening to her, I began sobbing as soon as the boys had tied us up and left. I could not stop myself. I could not understand what was happening to us, to Iran.
Being able to theorize about the event, decades later, does not help my continued feelings of bewilderment and anger. I continue to try and process these events, and I continue, along with many other Iranians and citizens of other countries, to pay for the crimes of our so-called governments.
Being born in Iran, and having recently visited the United States, I was finger printed and had my picture digitally scanned. Once again I was reminded of how citizens bare the overwhelming weight of the actions of their government, this is quite analogous to the crimes against humanity that occurred on September 11, 2001.
Being in Canada, I could not have been more removed from the hostage crisis in Iran in 1979, and yet I was made to feel the repercussions of what occurred on that day. The hostage crisis of 1979, not only took 52 American's hostage, it took hostage of the Iranian psyche and solidified the zealots stranglehold on the country.
When BBC news recently interviewed Ebrahim Asgharzadeh, one of the masterminds behind the takeover of the embassy, and asked what their aim was in taking over the embassy, Asgharzadeh replied, we neither thought of the aspects of this move, nor its implications. After a quarter century, can't we say the same about the revolution?