All it took for half of an Afghan family to be deported from Iran, where they had lived legally for the past 15 or so years, was a pair of pink sneakers and platform shoes. 17-year-old Zohrah wore the platform sandals and her 15-year-old sister Hasina donned a pair of pink sneakers on a 35 kilometer pilgrimage to the Shia holy city of Qoms. They were arrested after they argued with a policeman in Qoms who noticed the shoes and the makeup, found it offensive, and charged them with not abiding by Islamic dress code. Zohrah immediately called her fiance' who then called their father to come help, but they too were arrested when they arrived at the station, and three or four days later the four found themselves on the border of Iran and Afghanistan waiting deportation.
According to Human Rights Watch, Afghans are not allowed Iranian citizenship, and even though they might be there legally (like Zohrah and Hasina's family), and Hasina was born there, they can be easily deported.
Iran detains and deports hundreds of thousands of Afghans every year with without any legal proceedings or the opportunity to seek asylum, according to a new Human Rights Watch report, Unwelcome Guests. Members of the Iranian security forces have absolute power to deport Afghans. Afghans facing deportation are typically bused to Afghanistan within a couple of days of being detained without any opportunity to prove that they have a legal right to live in Iran or to lodge an asylum claim. These days, Afghans are systematically denied the opportunity to apply for refugee status when they first enter Iran, leaving them vulnerable to deportation at any moment. Some deportees are beaten during the deportation process, and all are charged exorbitant fees.Zohrah and Hasina's mother and 3 other young siblings (12, 8, 3) have been left behind to fend for themselves. And the girls are facing an even worse hell-hole for women, in Afghanistan. And now the father has to figure out what to do about his family in Iran (including an aunt and grandparents), and his two girls in Afghanistan.
“We don’t have any money in Afghanistan,” he said. “We don’t have any money to go back to Iran. My wife does not work, she’s uneducated. What will she do?”
“What will we do?” he said.
All of this because of some shoes. Gotta love the Islamic Republic of Iran.
More on Human Rights Watch.