PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Tensions between the United States and Iran have many Iranian students living in Portland worried about what will happen next.
Iranian students at Portland State University gathered Wednesday night to discuss their concerns.
KOIN 6 News spoke with a former PSU student from Iran who now works in the Portland metro area. He said the reports about potential war makes him worry about his family back in Iran as well as those he’s come to know and love in Oregon.
“I also care about all the Americans, all the casualties in the region — Iraqis, Syrians. It’s not going to be good for any sides of the conflict, that’s for sure,” he said.
The man, who wanted to remain anonymous, said it’s important for people living in the states to see the Iranian people as separate from the government’s policies and ideals.
“Maybe some people in the government, maybe they benefit from the war but a big, huge majority of the people, they don’t want war — they want peace,” he said.
Other Iranian students said threats of war have caused them to worry about their families overseas. Tough sanctions imposed over the years have made travel between the countries very difficult. Many haven’t seen their loved ones in years.
And trying to return home, especially at a time like this, is risky.
“For people like myself, people are worried about going back to the country and then get accused of supporting the government here,” the former student said. “Just the fact of living here and working here give enough justification to the government there to put people in jail.”
Another person from Iran said the Iranian people may not have liked Qasem Soleimani — Iran’s top general killed in a U.S. airstrike on Friday in Baghdad — but his death still rocked the country and emotions are running high. He said the Iranian government has since been issuing propaganda that capitalizes on that.
The students KOIN 6 News spoke with on Wednesday night made it clear they hope both countries open up channels of communication and avoid conflict.
“If we want to solve the problem, we have to take a step back,” the former student said.