The Iranian citizens in “Your Voice” talk about the discrimination against religious minorities that they have witnessed. They provide short stories about the suffering of millions, who have become “simple incidents” in Iran. This is a story of Neda, a Jewish woman, who shares her testimony when she had to go through a “humiliating “ process to get a passport.
It was the year 1987 that she set to apply for a passport and leave Iran but for her, getting a passport was not as much of a breeze as she once thought it was; actually, the Jews had to face questioning and contempt by the authorities in the process.
I had to fill in a form to apply for a passport: First Name…, Last Name…, Date of Birth…, Religion…
I thought to myself: Well, if they have a problem with my religion, I would convert it, or at least I can pretend I have converted it. So I opened the desk drawer and started filling in the blanks with a pen.
I paused on the last question. Religion. Although I expected it, I was shocked to see it there, right after First and Last Name.
They asked me a question that I myself did not know the answer to. I wanted to write “Nothing” or even worse “That’s none of your business!” Or …
But I had heard that they could guess a person’s religion by their last name, and my last name is such that I could not hide my Jewish identity. Everyone with my last name would be identified as a Jew; it has nothing to do with their own will and no one can do anything to change that fact.
Once I completed and turned in the form, I was told that I have to wait for their call. I knew that just like any other Jew, I would have to go to an Islamic Revolutionary Court where they would decide for me whether I would have to stay or get to leave.
Finally, I was summoned to the Islamic Revolutionary Court where two twenty-something-year-old clerics (Akhunds) decided my case. They asked me what I thought about the “world-devouring” Israel, and whether I have any family members there or not. I gave the answers they wanted to hear. They said that no one from an Islamic State must go to Israel, and all those who have left Iran for Israel were either traitors or spies. I shook my head stupidly while pretending to be an obedient girl who is not a critical thinker.
After the question and answer session that seemed more like an interrogation, I was called into the room and given a piece of paper with a bright red stamp on it. When I saw that red color, I knew for sure that I had been banned from leaving the country. I raised my head. One of them smiled and said that the red stamp meant that I could leave the country, but only once I was stunned. I snatched the paper from him and left it there immediately and hastily. I started running and I made it off the courthouse with a light heart.