Iran’s Surprising New Foreign Legion

Ironic. Follows US approach of granting preference to those who serve in the military, which Canada also adopted in the 2014 Citizenship Act changes:

Proposed amendments to Iran’s Civil Code under the name “Facilitating Naturalization of non-Iranian Veterans, Warriors and Elites” will offer citizenship to foreigners who join Iranian military units—be it border patrol, militias confronting the so-called “Islamic State” in Iraq and Syria, groups involved with public order operations, or any of Iran’s less “official” military initiatives, including support for Hezbollah in Lebanon. Under the amendments, “revolutionary heroes” can become citizens without undergoing existing naturalization requirements.

Parliamentarians who signed the bill say those who “serve the revolution,” including people who have contributed to Iran’s scientific progress, will be entitled to easier access to the citizenship they deserve. Yet human-rights activists and lawyers say the amendments are part of a political and militaristic strategy to entice immigrants, who have resided illegally in the country since 1979, into fighting Iran’s proxy wars.

If passed, the amendment to Article 980 will allow a new working group—the Committee for Granting Naturalization to non-Iranian Veterans, Warriors and Elites—to decide if a non-Iranian “revolutionary” will be granted Iranian citizenship. The MPs who tabled the bill on January 12 include several conservative parliamentarians who are currently waiting for their amendment to be reviewed.

Who does this new law affect and what is it really trying to achieve?

“After the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan [in 1979], the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran opened its doors to Afghans, arguing that Islam does not recognize any borders,” explains Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian human-rights lawyer and 2003 Nobel Peace laureate. “At that time, around 4 million Afghans came to Iran, but only around 10 percent of them managed to obtain residency permits.” The rest, she explains, remained illegally, and were thus denied basic rights which citizens enjoy. “At that time,” Ebadi continues, “Iran had begun an eight-year war with Iraq and was naturally in need of inexpensive labor. Iran took advantage of illegal Afghan workers to satisfy this need.” But when the war ended, the policy remained.

Source: Iran’s Surprising New Foreign Legion – The Daily Beast

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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