The New York Times:

In 2013, as part of an assignment about Iranians abroad, I traveled to Los Angeles, home of the largest Iranian diaspora in the world. There, and elsewhere in California, I met generations of Iranian immigrants who shared the goal of a better life nurtured by social, political and religious freedom.

I believe the state is a popular destination for Iranians because the constant traffic jams, warm climate and rugged, mountainous terrain remind us of home. Along Westwood Boulevard, hub of the local Iranian community, almost all the signs hanging above the shops are in Persian. I felt as if I was strolling again on one of Tehran’s main streets, which I have longed to do ever since I left.

Although we all have different reasons for leaving, everyone I spoke to hoped one day to return home — but to a country where we can vote in truly democratic elections, dress the way we like, choose our own religion and speak, and photograph, freely.

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