In LA's 'Tehrangeles,' mixed feelings about proposed US-Iran accord

Businesses along a stretch of Westwood Boulevard in Los Angeles known as
Businesses along a stretch of Westwood Boulevard in Los Angeles known as "Persian Square."
Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC
Businesses along a stretch of Westwood Boulevard in Los Angeles known as
Inside an Iranian-American grocery store on Westwood Boulevard in Los Angeles.
Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC
Businesses along a stretch of Westwood Boulevard in Los Angeles known as
Cell phone covers on display at the Ketab bookstore on Westwood Boulevard in Los Angeles.
Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC
Businesses along a stretch of Westwood Boulevard in Los Angeles known as
Along Westwood Boulevard in Los Angeles, on a commercial stretch known as "Persian Square."
Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC


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The United States and Iran have struck a tentative deal that would restrict Iran’s nuclear program. In exchange, economic sanctions against Iran would be eased. For members of Los Angeles' widespread Iranian diaspora, the news stirred deep emotions - and mixed ones, at that.

Along a stretch of Westwood Boulevard known as “Persian Square" on Tuesday, some expressed optimism. Others weren't sure how to feel about the accord. 

“The main concern for me is that I don’t have a very clear perspective yet for human rights," said Anita Ghanaei, a native of Tehran who was working the register at the popular Ketab book store. "Everything I have heard is about the economy and other things, which I do care about, but the most important thing for me is human rights.”

Ghanaei said she feared for political prisoners, and wondered if the easing of sanctions might help them in any way.

She and others said they didn't trust the Iranian government. Mavash Tabari was skeptical about how an improved economy might help a government she doesn't care for.

"I'm worried they won't put [the money] in the right places," said Tabari, who has having her hair done at a local salon. "I don’t like it if they are going to pay for killing people and supporting terrorists."

At the same time, she and others said they looked forward to easier economic times for Iranians.

Iranian-American Los Angeles is diverse. Expats come from different religious and political backgrounds, and are spread from Beverly Hills to the Valley. Merchants and customers in "Persian Square" represent this mix: Some are Muslim, some Jewish, some Baha'i.

While some were more skeptical than others about the news,  most shared a similar wish for those living in Iran.

"I hope it's going to affect the economy, and also make it easier to live," said Golnaz Nawapi, a former Los Angeles resident who now lives in North Carolina, but still visits the neighborhood to shop whenever she's in town.

Computer shop owner Kevin Adhami said he still has family in Iran.
 
“Everything is expensive," he said, adding that he welcomes the news. "People are not making enough money so they can afford living there, because of the sanctions.”

Tabari summed up the cautious optimism. 

“I have mixed feelings," she said. "I hope it’s good for Iranian people, and for all over the world.”

U.S. lawmakers must still approve the proposed accord.