US visa waiver program enrages Iranians on social media

Politics Materials 12 December 2015 14:57 (UTC +04:00)

Baku, Azerbaijan, Dec. 12

By Farhad Daneshvar - Trend:

Many Iranians have taken to social media networks to protest against a recent amendment to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) by the House of Representatives imposing restrictions on foreigners who intend to visit the US.

It appears that the legislation would prevent many foreign nationals or those who hold dual citizenship, including thousands of Iranians, who have been to home in Iran, Syria, Iraq and the Sudan over the past five years, from entering the US without a visa. The legislation is expected to become law by the end of the year.

The United States Government's Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens of about 38 countries mostly European to travel to the United States for tourism, business, or while in transit for up to 90 days without having to obtain a visa.

"Shame shame shame to US congress," an Iranian user wrote on Facebook, adding that no Iranian national had a role in the recent terrorist attacks blaming the citizens of Pakistan and Arab states - who enjoy strong ties with the US - for the attacks.

Meanwhile, another Iranian user wrote about the absurdity of the legislation, saying the Iranians should "raise their voice", because the matter is built on nationality, as the legislation includes people of Iranian origin.

Responding to Iranians' critical posts, the US State Department's Persian Language Spokesperson Alan Eyre pledged to inform the White House about the opinions of the Iranian users.

Another user of Iranian origin lashed out at the legislation, saying the sole goal of the US government is to prevent the improvement of ties between Iran and the EU.

Another user made a point, touching on Iran's tourism sector, saying the legislation would deter European business delegations and tourists from travelling to Iran. He added that is a blatant violation of Article 29 of JCPOA (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action which states the EU and its member states and the US, consistent with their respective laws, will refrain from any policy specifically intended to directly and adversely affect the normalization of trade and economic relations with Iran.

Under the milestone nuclear deal, Iran expects the international sanctions to be lifted in the first month of 2016 as it is adhering to the terms of the deal.

Aimed at preventing possible terrorist threats, the House of Representatives passed the legislation intended to limit certain travel privileges granted to citizens of 38 foreign countries in the aftermath of attacks in Paris and California.

Many Iranian Americans are shocked by the legislation, and wonder what will follow.

"Here in Tehran there are special forces standing outside of our metro stations because of the severity of IS's (ISIL, ISIS or Daesh) threats on Iran. Because as a Shi'a and someone who currently lives in Tehran my community is on ISIL's hit list. And yet in the fight against ISIL, the US, my country of primary citizenship, plans on punishing and restricting the travel rights of me and my Iranian American family, and my Iranian European relatives. Why?", an Iranian user, who claims to hold dual citizenship, wrote.

Another Iranian Facebook user accused the citizens of Saudi Arabia as well as other Arab states of conducting terrorist attacks in the West and questioned why Iranians should be punished instead.


Farhad Daneshvar is Trend Agency's staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @farhad_danesh