With the Rouhani/Zarif visit to NYC finally petering out, one loose end to tie up: Tehran’s attitude toward its’ diaspora.
Actually, the issue comes up every year during the Iranian president’s UNGA visit. During Ahmadinejad’s time attention was mainly on expat protests outside the UN building. With Rouhani things were different, of course, but still far from harmonious.
As pointed out by Al-Monitor, the question of Tehran’s relationship with its former citizens, particularly those who left amid the 2009 unrest, was raised in typically ominous Iranian fashion by its intelligence minister:
“God willing, we will solve the unnecessary fear of all those who did not commit any violations and those who did not do wrong. We guarantee they will not encounter any problems.”
About those “violations”: according to the report, a spokesman for the judiciary made clear
“If someone committed a crime, whether outside the country against Iran, or committed a crime inside the country and then left, we do not forbid them from entering back into the country. But certainly, when they enter back into the country, the accusations will be pursued.”
Interestingly enough, the dark possibility of accusations being “pursued” did not deter many expats from accepting an invitation to meet with Rouhani – who, as expected, hugged them all (except for the Bahais) and offered hope for the resumption of direct US-Iran flights. (Even Israel’s Iranian community was watching.)
While practically unnoticed by the media, there was one group of expats which decided not to play along: the Jewish community. The reason, according to a representative: “when the president had a chance to redeem himself on the question of the Holocaust, he did not do that.”
Call it integrity – unlike Rouhani’s media interlocutors, who seemed less concerned with such nuance.