1980s >> Abbas Ghadimi >> Iran

Abbas Ghadimi. Photo: © UNHCR/Karl Burke Abbas Ghadimi is an Iranian Bahá’í who has lived and worked in Kilkenny since he came to Ireland in 1985.

When the Islamic revolutionaries overthrew the Shah in 1970 it became dangerous to be a Bahá’í in Iran. As educated people who believed in equality for men and women, the half-million Bahá’ís were seen as subversive. Over the next five years over 200 were executed.

Mr. Ghadimi had a good job in Tehran as an accountant and auditor. His boss wanted him to lie about his religion and tell the Islamic police he was Muslim but his faith would not allow him to do this.

"When I found myself in Kilkenny I said to a friend, ‘This is the city I am going to be buried in.'"

In October 1984, along with two colleagues, he decided to leave. As Bahá’ís were not allowed to hold passports they had to walk for a week through the desert to cross the frontier to Pakistan. As a victim of religious persecution, Mr. Ghadimi was classified by the UN as a refugee and spent the next 14 months sharing a room with 7 others in Peshawar, Pakistan. Without a durable solution for the refugees in Pakistan, Abbas was selected by the Irish authorities with support from the Bahá’í community to be resettled in Ireland and in December 1985, along with 25 other Iranian Bahá’ís, arrived in Dublin.

“We were met in Dublin airport by representatives of the Government, UN and Bahá’í National Spiritual Assembly. We were sent to different parts of the country to be received by local Irish Bahá’í communities. When I found myself in Kilkenny I said to a friend, ‘This is the city I am going to be buried in.’”

Mr. Ghadimi’s first challenge in Kilkenny was to find work, however, with very little English he realized that he could not resume his work as an accountant. He was determined to find employment and with an Irish friend, started work shoveling manure on local organic fruit and vegetable farms. With a dictionary in hand he then did an eight month ‘start your own business’ Government training course. He saved £800 from his dole money and persuaded one of the course administrators to go guarantor for a £2000 loan from a local Credit Union. With this he bought a van and started selling fruit and vegetables door to door.

In 1996, because of his expertise in the organic sun-drying of fruit, he was funded by the Government’s overseas service agency to go for six weeks to Nigeria to advise five villages on how to preserve their fruit through the winter season. Abbas now runs a health food store in Callan, Co. Kilkenny where he employs several people part-time in the shop. He is also a highly regarded qualified homeopath with a patient list drawn from all over Ireland, a published author and a member of the Irish Society of Homeopaths.

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