Iranians' northern exposure


A refugee family facing a return to Iran, where they are accused of leaking nuclear secrets, featured in the Holocaust Memorial Day event at Manchester's Jewish Museum.

The Vahidis fled to the UK in 2006 after a close friend - a member of an Iranian opposition party - was found dead. Mohammed Vahidi worked in a nuclear-related industry and has been linked to information given to the friend.

They went into hiding in Manchester, but were arrested by the UK's Border Agency in 2010. After several hearings, the Home Office has decided to refuse them long-term asylum and they are waiting to find out when they will be sent back.

Farhad Vahidi, 19, the youngest family member, planted an Anne Frank rose in the museum's garden. The plant is grown by Japanese schoolchildren and in peace gardens at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It originates from a bush sent by Otto Frank, Anne's father, to a young Japanese girl who had written to him.

Farid Vahidi, 22, said: "We have been through great hardship during our asylum process but it is nothing compared with what happened to people during the Holocaust. We also would like to express the message that the solidarity of human beings must be maintained, regardless of ethnic or faith differences."

Museum chief executive Max Dunbar said it was fitting that the Vahidis had planted the rose, "a symbol of freedom. The family tie in with our exhibition of the refugee Windermere boys, which is about journeys, freedom and new, better lives."

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