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Iranian-American man reacts to tensions in Middle East

Posted at 6:12 PM, Jan 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-09 05:57:14-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Dariush Shafa was born and raised in the United States. He's the son of a Puerto Rican mother and an Iranian father.

"My parents met in medical school," he explained.

He grew up hearing about Iran from his family.

"For me, it's always been kind of like looking in at a conversation across a crowded room," said Shafa.

While he said his family did the best to teach him about his Iranian culture, Shafa has never stepped foot in the country.

"I've heard so many stories about my family's culture that I eventually do want to see what it's like to go there," said Shafa. "I don't see that as a possibility right now given the politics of things."

A U.S. airstrike in Iraq killed Qassem Soleimani, a top Iranian military commander. Iran retaliated by firing 22 missiles at two Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops.

Shafa said the news overseas puts the Iranian community in the United States on edge because they recall a rise in discrimination against Middle Easterners in the aftermath of 9/11.

"I want people to understand I'm just another ordinary person who goes about his day and works alongside others in the community who have no idea what my background is," Shafa said.

Shafa said he tries to keep escalating tension abroad from controlling his day-to-day life.

"It's okay to have concern and it's okay to be cautious," said Shafa. "But I don't want to be afraid because giving into fear is, I think, perhaps the least American thing I could do."