FrontPage Interview’s guest today is Roozbeh Farahanipour, a former Iranian journalist, democracy activist and political prisoner in Iran. He is the head of the Marze Por Gohar resistance movement (MPG), an Iranian opposition movement seeking the establishment of a secular republic in Iran. He was a student leader in the 1999 uprising, just one year after creating MPG. He was recently elected for the third term to his seat as Business Director of the Westwood Neighborhood Council in Los Angeles.
While the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) is trying to dupe the West, particularly the U.S., into lifting sanctions without making any real compromises, Farahanipour has been leading the Westwood Neighborhood Council in taking a powerful step ahead to enforce existing sanctions law under its territorial jurisdiction.
FP: Roozbeh Farahanipour, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Tell us a little bit about the Westwood Neighborhood Council’s September 10th ruling on Iran Sanctions.
Farahanipour:The Council passed a motion to ensure enforcement of Federal, State and Local laws on divestment and sanctions in regards to the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is a motion to crack down on illegal business, and an important step in keeping the neighborhood safe from IRI intelligence and terror activities under the guise of a business environment. There was a second motion which banned the Islamic Republic’s symbol as well as other regime signage and all illegal IRI advertisements.
And it is important to stress, Jamie, that we didn’t propose new sanctions; we are simply asking that existing Federal, State and Local sanctions laws be enforced. It’s already the law, and we don’t want illegal activity in our neighborhood.
FP: Did any other organizations support your motion?
Farahanipour: Yes, the WestwoodCommunity Council came out in support, as well as various community leaders. Most importantly, California State Senator Joel Anderson flew in from Sacramento to speak in support of the motions. He authored California’s AB221, the law that divested California taxpayer money from being invested in companies engaged with the Islamic Republic of Iran. He understands how the enforcement of the above mentioned laws enhance our security.
FP: Why is a motion like this so important in Westwood? And what would you say sets Westwood apart from the rest of Los Angeles?
Farahanipour: The Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, often nicknamed ‘Tehrangeles,’ a portion of which is officially regarded as “Persian Square” is a powerhouse of anti-Regime, and pro-Democracy activity. Home to a massive Iranian expatriate community, Westwood was once the safe-haven of Iranian refugees fleeing the Islamic Republic. In recent years, many Iranian immigrants, like myself, are still in fact refugees seeking political asylum. Sadly, however, drizzled in-between those seeking safety and a better life, are businesspeople and other individuals closely-tied to the ruling regime back in Tehran, sent here with an agenda, a goal and a mission.
That’s precisely why this motion is so important. Westwood is one of the last-remaining anti-Regime fronts in the Diaspora. The Ayatollahs saw this, recognized this, and feared this; that’s why they sent their cronies here in order to change that status quo.
FP: Give us some examples of the illegal activity being conducted in Westwood.
Farahanipour: There are numerous businesses who openly advertise — exclusively in Persian of course — that they administer official Consular and Legal services for nonexistent Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Not only is that illegal under sanctions law, but it raises questions of money-laundering and regime personnel freely roaming Los Angeles, carrying out whatever the Ayatollahs demand.
Furthermore, there is quite a bit of activity regarding sanctioned businesses, including the import of banned items for sale, and businesses being openly conducted with specifically sanctioned Iranian businesses, including Iran Air, the Islamic Republic’s official airline.
FP: What would you say to those who would argue that selling tickets for Iran Air is no big deal? With the US (P5+1) and Islamic republic being in negotiations, they would allege that there is an easing up of sanctions on Iran Air and other similar Iranian businesses anyway.
Farahanipour: Iran Air is sanctioned not only by the State Department, but also by the Treasury Department for its well documented involvement in transferring weapons and ammunition to terror groups around the world. It’s an absolute myth that Iran Air is strictly a passenger/civilian airline, as it is yet another instrument for the Iran Regime’s international terror machine. It is owned by the Regime, and is utilized at the will of the Revolutionary Guards Corps. With that in mind, their ability to have sales in Los Angeles is unlawful, suspicious and concerning. Don’t forget, Iran Air doesn’t have any flights to or from the US.
FP: Very concerning and disturbing. Is this only happening in Westwood or elsewhere in Los Angeles, and even in the U.S.?
Farahanipour: This isn’t only happening in Westwood; it is certainly happening throughout Los Angeles and Orange County south of here, and no doubt in other parts of the US and Canada within major Iranian communities. It is a big problem.
FP: How would you summarize your overall concern with this issue?
Farahanipour: This is first and foremost about safety and security, and upholding the rule of law in our neighborhood. We do not want Westwood becoming a breeding ground for illegal, unlawful activity. We aren’t asking for anything more than existing laws to be enforced and upheld, and I haven’t met anyone who disagrees with that yet, unless they personally are engaged in these illegal businesses.
FP: The Westwood Neighborhood Council’s motion is quite a strong message to the Regime and its supporters. Do you have another message to add?
Farahanipour: Yes, I’d like to tell them that their front businesses, their money laundering, and their intimidation aren’t welcome here. Their trickery, their propaganda and their attempts to sell politics under the guise of ‘culture’ will not survive here either. Westwood is the frontier for a new day in Iran. A democratic, secular and liberal Iran—nothing like the deeply oppressive, regressive and destructive regime strangling my homeland, today.
FP: Roozbeh Farahanipour, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview and thank you for defending this nation from those who seek it harm.
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.