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Letter by Shahram Hashemi to President Bush and Members of the US Congress

5/18/02 By: Shahram Hashemi, New York

May 9, 2002

Honorable George W. Bush, President of the United States of America and
Honorable Members of the United States Congress

Dear Mr. President and Honorable Members of the Congress:

Please grant me this opportunity to introduce myself to you at this important historical juncture for our world. My name is Shahram Hashemi, a citizen of Iran who migrated to New York three years ago; I am currently a foreign student at LaGuardia Community College/City University of New York. On September 11th, I participated in a dramatic search and rescue mission with the New York City Fire Department at the World Trade Center site. The grave experience of rescuing more than a dozen people on September 11th has certainly changed my life for the better and has instilled in me a greater compassion and respect for others. It has also taught me the enormous need for us to work positively towards peaceful relations based on mutual understanding.

Shahram Hashemi, Amnesty International activist and September 11 hero, with the photo of him that appeared in Newsweek.

It is against this background that I have thought it necessary to contact your distinguished office to register my dissatisfaction and grave concern regarding the passage of Senate H.R. 3525: Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002. While I am aware of the various differences that exist between Iran and the US, politically and otherwise, I have a firm belief that meaningful progress can only be made through an all-inclusive dialogue. The young people of Iran are pressing for greater political freedoms and reform in their society. They are also seeking academic opportunities that exist in your great nation. Denying future students visas and families the right to visit their loved ones here are certainly not steps in the right direction. The massive hardship that this possible legislation will have on Iran's young generation and families is simply beyond measure. I hereby urge you to oppose this unfair and counterproductive legislation. By opposing such bill you would greatly dissipate the doubt and uncertainty that now exists within the Iranian-American community with respect to the bill and it will help us build a solid bridge of communication and trust between our two people.

It is very evident that there is a great need for us to constructively engage each other so that misperceptions and misunderstandings are done away with. This is the understanding and experience that I have attained and appreciated by coming to this great nation. With your help, we will continue to make a powerful contribution towards building a greater relationship between our two nations. I am motivated as never before to make a difference in terms of demonstrating to the world that "The hearts of men are in the hands of God."

I sincerely hope that this information will be useful to your office and look forward with great anticipation to hearing from you. Thank you for the privilege of communicating with you and may God bless you.

Sincerely yours,

Shahram Hashemi

Related Articles:

Courage of the Morning
Shahram Hashemi, probably would not have ever mentioned his own heroism that day if others hadn't sought him out first, if his picture hadn't run in Newsweek. But now he feels a special responsibility as a Muslim to speak out. As to what wellspring of courage caused him to turn back with a small group of other civilian volunteers that day while thousands fled in terror, he has no doubt. - Amnesty International, USA

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