Why Are There So Many Iranians In Los Angeles? [Becoming Iranian-American, Pt. 1] | AJ+

Why Are There So Many Iranians In Los Angeles? [Becoming Iranian-American, Pt. 1] | AJ+

You might be wondering why I’m dancing like this at an Iranian nightclub in Los Angeles. “Del-e Divaaneehhhhhh…” Let me explain. My name is Yara. No, not that Yara, the half-black, half-Iranian actress. I’m a different Yara. But like her, I’m also Iranian-American. My parents emigrated from Iran and settled in northern California, where I was born and raised. But even though I’ve been in the States pretty much my whole life, I’ve always felt sort of in-between. Meaning, both American and, well, Iranian. This is especially true now. “Iran, a terrorist nation like few others.” As attempts have been made to ban Iranians and other Middle Easterners from entering the U.S., “…complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States…” I’ve been made very aware of my Iranian identity. All this got me thinking, what does it mean to be both Iranian and American? And is this the first time we’ve had to deal with something like this? To answer that, I decided to head to the world’s largest community of Iranians outside of Iran, which happens to be in Los Angeles. Or, as people here call it, Tehrangeles. “And we’re stuck in traffic.” “Hey, Siri. Where is Tehrangeles?” “What is that?!” Siri was useless. So I asked Iranian-American writer Porochista Khakpour, who grew up in L.A. – “Hi, how are you?” “Good to meet you.” – to show me the symbolic center of the Iranian community here: Westwood Boulevard, also known as Persian Square. “So we’re basically entering Tehrangeles now. This is where the heart of it is.” Growing up, Porochista’s parents would drive the family 40 minutes, almost every weekend, to get to Westwood. “I imagine, for my parents, must have been very hard to afford it, but they wanted to have me be in touch with the culture.” “Oh, here we go.” “Taste of Tehran!” “Taste of Tehran is right here.” “If you think they’re Iranian out here, they’re definitely Iranian.” The whole place is like a little slice of Iran in America. Everything is written in Persian, also known as Farsi, the official language of Iran. You walk into stores and immediately start speaking Persian. There’s tons of Iranian people everywhere. And Iranian food. “I’m going to eat this tongue sandwich.” “Oh my God, these!
This is Iranian fruit leather.” “Made in Iran.” “My mom’s whole refrigerator and kitchen is all this stuff.” There’s even a shop that sells Iranian music. It’s estimated there’s about 1 million Iranian-Americans, and about half of them live in southern California. But why did so many Iranians choose L.A.? I met up with sociologist Ali Akbar Mahdi to find out. He offered a few reasons. “The weather in Los Angeles is very much like Tehran, it’s warm. California is the place where the communities that exist here — Latinos, Asians, Arabs, Iranians – each of them have their independent community. An immigrant could literally be who they want to be. Once a group has come, you’re going to have a base, and that begins to attract other people. This is now the largest community of Iranians outside of Iran.” Walking around Tehrangeles, I realized that a lot Iranians here call themselves “Persian,” unlike Porochista and me. But why is that? “Iranians like me, when we first got to America, everybody was saying ‘Persian.’ Everything about the word ‘Iran’ was negative. It was horrible. So, out of survival, people like my parents and their generation started saying ‘Persian.’ I don’t blame them.” “Iranians don’t even say they are Iranian, Iranians say they are Persian. I am not dangerous, I am Persian. I am Persian like the cat. Meow.” What did that first massive wave of Iranian immigrants need to protect themselves from? “Iranians who confronted the stereotypes and prejudices after the hostage crisis, they needed a protective shield, and ‘Persia’ and ‘Persian’ gave them that cover.” What was the hostage crisis? Let me give you a quick rundown. In 1979, Iranians had a revolution. They got rid of their American-backed king, the shah, and established an Islamic republic led by this guy, Ayatollah Khomeini. The shah fled his country, and at one point went to the U.S. for medical treatment. Anti-shah students wanted the United States to return him to Iran to face trial. So they broke into the American embassy in Tehran and took dozens of American diplomats hostage. 52 Americans were held for 444 days. Their ordeal, known as the hostage crisis, became a fixture of American TV news. “Day 314 of the hostage crisis in Iran.” Nightly newscasts showed the same images over and over again: burning American flags, fist-pumping Iranians and blindfolded American hostages. As a result, anti-Iranian sentiment started to seep into the American psyche. Iranians were demonized in books, movies … “This is a backward, primitive country!” … and music. The hostage crisis also took a toll on public opinion. By 1980, some 60 percent of Americans had a negative view of Iran. Fast-forward to 1989, and that skyrocketed to 91 percent. This hit especially hard for Porochista, whose family fled Iran after the revolution, a time when many other Iranians left the country. When she arrived in the U.S., she was just a little kid. “This is my brother and I. He was born in the U.S., I was born in Iran. Then we were refugees in Paris. And then we got to the U.S. I can’t emphasize enough how horrible [it was], when we got to the U.S. in the early ’80s. I mean, I was so young, but I remember all of it vividly. Because I was so traumatized by the atmosphere of hatred in America. I was just made fun of constantly. There was a lot of anti-Iranian sentiments, and I would get that on playgrounds. I heard ‘dune goon.’ There was ‘sand n-word.’ ‘Camel jockey.’” “What is that?” “Do you know that slur, ‘camel jockey’?” “No.” “It just was the predominant slur used against people from Iran, and possibly the rest of the Middle East, in the ’80s.” It was in that very political climate that Mashti Shirvani opened his ice cream shop, Mashti Malone’s. His brother, Mehdi, joined him 1988 and helped expand the business. The two are often credited with bringing Persian ice cream to L.A. “That’s our best seller, here. Saffron rosewater. That’s ginger rosewater. And then there’s orange blossom with pistachio. Bahar narenj.” “This is the Persian faloodeh. But we mixed it with sour cherry.” “Sour cherry, great.” “Faloodeh is made of rosewater with rice starch noodles.” “Oh, that one’s my favorite. I feel like I’m literally sitting in my grandma’s house right now.” Mashti Malone’s is seen as an L.A. institution now, but when Mashti first opened his shop in 1980, during the hostage crisis, things were not so easy for Iranians. Anti-Iran protests were happening all over the country, from Washington, DC, to Beverly Hills. One of them was even organized by a California state senator. “I mean, everybody could see that the media was completely against Iranians. They kind of associated people with the government. So whatever the government did, people here got punished for it too.” “All the Iranian students, they were afraid to say they are Iranian.” “This is a giant container of saffron.” “We may get robbed, this is…” “Oh my God, I don’t think I’ve ever seen this much saffron in one place.” In spite of what happened to him during the hostage crisis years, Mashti doesn’t hold any grudges. “This is the best temperature to try ice cream.” “You can taste the cardamom in this thing.” What I realized from Mashti and Mehdi is that those who came before me, the people who established the Iranian-American community, they went through a lot. I didn’t have to deal with the immediate fallout from the hostage crisis. And I’m thankful for that. But me and other second-generation Iranian-Americans have had to deal with something else – something that made us feel like “others” in our own country. Hey guys, thanks for watching the first episode of our four-part series on Iranian-Americans. Don’t forget to subscribe to catch the next episode in the series because there’s breakdancing, rare Iranian food and so much more.


  1. Akhmad K Qohar says:

    Tehrangeles? hahaha..

  2. brandon jarvis says:

    Total sleeper cells ready to attack! Lol or people escaping an Islamic dictatorship…

  3. John Connor says:

    He is gorgeous!

  4. John Connor says:

    I support illegal immigrants over American racist ANYTIME!

  5. Youaltubex says:

    I am Iranian and I am ashamed how much my country ruined the world

  6. John G says:

    wait how is the climate the same? we are talking a 20 degree difference in January. In tehran 43F during day, 29F during night, below freezing. High in los angeles in 68F , we are talking coats and winter clothes and shorts and shirt weather in LA. I dont see how they are the same. The weather is closer to NYC, much closer than LA. I know i'm over analyzing it , but I just can't see why he would say that.

  7. niki t says:


  8. ramina says:


  9. ramina says:

    this looks tasty cuz i’m azerbaijani

  10. Arthur Ruhtra says:

    I’m not Persian .. The best teachers I’ve ever had are Iranian .. They are a Beautiful people

  11. Weirdo 246 says:

    Some middle eastern people (men mostly) refuse to change to respect American culture and accept that woman are equal, but most want to change and they do though relationships with others. And I’m sorry that middle easterners are judged because of some of their attitudes to new cultures.

  12. fathima Cader says:

    A lot of the people who fled during the Revolution were supporters of the shah and people who benefited by his rule… maybe read up on what the Shah did to his country.

  13. Roham Far says:

    خسته نباشید بسیار زیبا سپاس

  14. Ales ZIMA says:

    nice video…i know few people here in the uk which they are from iran and they are very nice people,polite and friendly

  15. Aika Papa says:

    The difference I see is women of Tehrangeles do not wear hijabs so much.

  16. Gobi Vertefeuille says:

    Damn, Iranians are very beautiful/handsome people.

  17. Marry Jovilo says:

    awesome video

  18. Simon Ross says:

    You are not Iranian anymore. I don’t know what you are, but definitely not Iranian. You swear elegance to American flag. True Iranians never disguise themselves🙃

  19. Ray Ray says:

    love content like this!

  20. Soorin Sayadi says:

    Thank you for the good video, it's nice to see the other side of the story.
    I live in Iran and i never though that people who went to the U.S felt this way.

  21. Alireza R says:

    For those who asked why Iranian ice cream is being shown in Iranian videos, I would say that from among Iranian products such as carpets, saffron, caviar, etc., ice cream is cheaper and simpler and more delicious of course.

  22. Tigre101 says:

    Viva Kurdistan! Greetings from Rosario, Argentina and Madrid, España


    All that Iran needs is a bit of American democracy just like Iraq and Libya and world would be complete

  24. Lindseyyasmin Acan says:

    Iranin people for me its fakes müslim for any pasaport they can change religion and and names it's bollshit

  25. Blood Sucker says:

    Damn as well..

  26. Gev G says:

    At 4:07 those are Armenian grandpas not Iranians. To Americans Armenians and Iranians may look alike, but you can clearly tell the difference. And those old dudes playing cards etc are Armenians. Persians are more silverspoon their old people don’t do shit like playing cards etc, they wear cattier watches and walk their poodles 😂😂

  27. Jacob Cohen says:

    Iran had a revolution in 1979 because Iran at that time had a barbaric dictator name Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The idiot dictator ruled his country from 1941 to 1979. During that time there were 2 assassination attempts on the Shah. The coward Shah fled Iran in 1953. He was re-installed by the British and the Americans. In January 1979 the filthy Shah fled the country once again fled the country for good.

  28. Sarah Hess says:

    Islam should be made illegal.

  29. Tamara Motola says:

    Iranian i a nationality, Persian is an ethnicity, there's no stigma…

  30. Altai Aila says:

    So also we can be sure of that when your government let people refuge in your country you have nothing useful to send them back but have to accept to share your country with them and see the change in the future .

  31. Thornback says:

    5:20 Beach Boys singing Barbara Ann… or Bomb Iran. You choose.

  32. elita eli says:

    I enjoyed this video so much thank youuuu , lots and lots of love from Iran to all of you

  33. Hesam Pour says:

    Thanks for raising awareness on this topic. As a student from Iran living in the States, I can tell you my experience in a Christian boarding school in the South East Kentucky was very similar to what you mentioned here. People did pointed fingers and cussed at me but thankfully no beating!

  34. Reza Ayoubi says:

    Every country is full of racist who look down on out groups, including Iranian themselves

  35. مهدی سلمانی says:

    as an Iranian i hate Iranian i

  36. Chloe wilson says:

    I know a few Iranians. They are wonderful people. All that I know of are doctors, pharmacists, engineers, they own their own homes and oh yes a fabulous hotel, with fine dining. Their food is truly amazing! All the best to the Iranians living in the US and Iran itself. I wish Israel and the US would stop badgering Iran. Always meddling in other countries affairs.

  37. Mustafa Iraq says:

    Long live Islamic Republic of Iran.
    Most Iranians outside of Iran are supporters of former dictator Shah (that's why they left)
    American people are being fooled by their media, goverment. Death to the ZIonist cancer.

  38. Farquaad Castle says:

    How many pornos have you directed there?

  39. Bere Cerati says:

    I love Iranians, I am from Tijuana and I learn about persian culture here in Georgia, USA, I am learning Farsi and planning my very first trip to Iran 🇮🇷 I need advices please!! Dooset daram!! Persians are the most warm people and very funny 😄

  40. Mr Xavier says:


  41. Kelly Toronto says:

    We have pockets like this in Toronto. Younge and Finch lol. Best Persian food and grocery stores. Delicious 😘🍽. So happy you are sharing this. People need to hear these stories.

  42. Sohail Zaveri says:

    What the hell is a tongue sandwich?

  43. Matias Lopez says:

    You were so sweet when you was a kid. Now you are so handsome.

  44. Matias Lopez says:

    Argentina love Iran

  45. GETREAL! says:

    Why are u over acting and making yourself look as an idiot!

  46. averagebodybuilder says:

    You Iranian-Americans are NOT Iranian.
    لا الہ الا اللہ محمد رسول اللہ


    Iranians are very cheap people

  48. Medalonzo says:

    LOve IRAN from Morocco <3

  49. \/// says:

    Our Zionist media and government infiltration by AIPAC is the reason for all this fake propaganda against Iran. I love the Iranian people…. generous, kind, and modest.

  50. B L says:

    Im certain there are some great Iranian men …..but as an American girl I went on a few dates with Iranians each one of them tried to sexually attacked me after a date.
    Never again.

  51. Matiss Paradise says:

    Open minded Iranians untill i saw the women with hijab, yuk yuk yuk

  52. King King says:

    Most antisemitic video.Not surprised by "AJ" – a liberal Muslim YouTube channel.We know you people don't like Jews unlike Trump Supporters.Do a video about how women in some Muslims countries are raped,killed etc.. This video proves we love Israel and Jews. Its a fact. If you would interview a Trump Supporter like myself you would see I rather love and help a Jew more than a stupid Nazi liberal.Btw I've seen interviews of real stupid Nazi's who hate&would never support a Jew. Yall are full blown crazy. #ProIsrael #Trump2020

  53. Murlidhar shridhar says:

    Love Iranians from India…

  54. Mohammad Zeinobaledin says:

    My dream live in LA I love it.

  55. Fahd Riaz Ali says:

    I like how this Shia said "American Backed Shah" but ppl like him will say nothing when talking about Israel helping Iran against Iraq and how Iran is basically bff with Israel and America. America only attacks Afghanistan , Iraq , Sunni Countries but they never change the regime of Syria or take out the terrorists in Lebanon.

  56. Sbl Inventory says:


  57. Roshi Rae says:

    As a Malaysian who speaks farsi even though I am north Indian by ethnicity visiting my boyfriend in Iran was an amazing experience. Even tho the government is f*cked, people are the nicest. Yani Irania yedune bashan!

  58. neo dynamium says:

    my good friend from Iran Alex is way cools Americans are spoliled and they dont realize the simplest conveniences is a luxury in Iran I cant stand people talking about Iranians in a negative ways…I am an naturalized immigrant myself so I abhorr Trump's Muslim ban.

  59. halit mahmut says:

    Axis of EVIL is usa!!!🇮🇷🇵🇰🇹🇷🇲🇾🇦🇿🇩🇿🇨🇳🇷🇺 VERSUS 🇺🇸🇮🇱🇸🇦🇪🇬🇮🇳 THE WORLD IS AGAINST usa led AXIS OF EVIL!!!

  60. Jim's girl says:

    I am Persian/Zoroastrian and a 2nd generation American in Chicago. No mention of religion in this video. It's an incomplete picture so far.

  61. SUS Rxvenge says:

    When trump says no Muslims he’s talking about his friend saudia

  62. irategamerdoesnotsuk says:

    These people were likely the corrupt elite, kicked out after the revolution.

  63. Bill Colello says:

    Kim Jung Un should put a nuclear strike in LA.

  64. Hossein Z says:

    I like how every car is a Merc Lexus or bmw 😂 classic Iran

  65. Simon Ben Natan says:

    Love to Iranians from Israel.
    I know most of you do not hate us. Same from us to you. (unrelated: your food is so delicious!)

  66. Khan The Video game hunter says:

    Iran number 1 nice people, I never met anyone bad from Iran. Always very nice and pleasant people.

  67. BJ Marshall says:


  68. Shiza Khan says:

    I love Iranian people and their culture. I am Pakistani and used to live in Persian Square in Westwood and I loved it there! <3

  69. Craken Flux says:

    HEY, that guy is not wearing gloves. and sticking his fingers in the ice cream… is that even legal?

  70. French Toast says:

    Iranian Americans are great but I'm not sure how I feel about Iran forcing gays to have gender reassignment surgery.

  71. Lou Thurston says:

    I didn't hear any objection to the 'death to America' and savage hatred coming out of Iran.

  72. Tom Jormungandr says:

    Persia was a great nation before Islam, but not so much now. Jetting away with the cash to a developed country and leaving the poor even poorer under the bloodthirty imams isn't exactly a noble story. At least have the balls to denounce all forms of coercive, violent Islam, or go full monty, like the Apostate Prophet.

  73. Tom Jormungandr says:

    Imagine a bunch of nazis arriving in Israel in 1950, then whining about being called names. That's this video.

  74. Tom Jormungandr says:

    Ex-Iranians should pay reparations to the Iranians they stole from and then fled from.

  75. Samuel Monroy says:

    You know what I'm Mexican and I understand what you feel because trump called my people rapists and drug addicts

  76. am k. says:

    I'm half Iranian. I will say the TRUTH that most Iranians especially the women have pretty bad personality. Most Iranian guys are creeps as well. Iranians may seem kind when you meet them first and may give good impression, but trust me you should be careful not to get too close with them. Most have very sick/strange cringe way of thinking and they are racist to Arabs. Ofcourse there are some good honest ones, but majority are not good people if you really get to know them. Hard to explain but I'm sure some understand.

  77. am k. says:

    I'm half Iranian. I will say the TRUTH that most Iranians especially the women have pretty bad personality. Iranian guys are mostly creeps. Iranians may seem kind when you meet them first and may give good impression, but trust me you should be careful not to get too close with them. Most have very sick/strange cringe way of thinking and they are racist to Arabs. Ofcourse there are some good honest ones, but majority are not good people if you really get to know them. Hard to explain but I'm sure some understand.

  78. evansdrad The celtic nationalist says:

    i like iranians

  79. I have been there! says:

    I am Iranian. I had a huge fight with one of my best friend that always said he was French when we travel around the world, despite the fact he is Iranian. He is ashamed to say he is Iranian because people around the world have no idea about the culture and even where Iran is in the map. My fight with him was huge, no matter what people think, you should be always proud of your heritage. I am Iranian and proud, he still lying to be French. Shame on all the Iranian that have not courage to say they are Iranian.

  80. Brandon Noble says:

    Why is there so much hate in people?

  81. Daniel Gaming says:

    If iran never got the theocracy goverment which was ruled by the ayatollah which was a replacement for the shah and monarch system iran would be the best country right now and every iranian would be in iran, now this is coming from a iranian-american who (currently) lives in iran. Imma just say that the situation isn’t good at the moment an i hope that no one attempts to come to iran unless they are familiar with the country

  82. Daniel Gaming says:

    You are iranian if you hold a iranian passport, and birth cirtificate, for instance i do but i also am american which i was born in america so i become a iranian-american, a lot of americans who come from iranian parents dont even speak their mothers tounge, which i think is werid since they mightve seem to learned it, thats when you are basically an american, it doesnt matter where you where raised or born, whatever your parents nationaloty is that is what you become unless you where born outside of that nation you become a multi national, for instance im multi but my first language was farsi which is my native language from my mother tounge

  83. Charles B. Lim says:

    that crescent tattoo is ugly as f

  84. سفيان صديق الكل says:

    Persian Iran —-has races – Kurds, ———Baloch, Turks and ——–Arabs I think?

  85. Jim Livingston says:

    My question is this to the Iranians living in the US, are you going to defend the United States of American or Iran if we go to war.

  86. Ant Bully says:

    Is that really a issue???

  87. revit بالعربي says:

    He is good at singing

  88. ASGAR Q says:

    I Love Iran

  89. Ravi Chandel says:

    first of all ayutola khemini is US agent and not the king

  90. Amanda M says:

    Thank u for this. I loved hearing persian being spoken. I worked with a few Persians over the years and I think it's a beautiful language.

    I really want to visit Iran one day. It's on my bucket list.

  91. The City Hall says:

    One word: Mollah.

  92. Buliders OTW says:

    Maybe if they would stop making enriched uranium and stick to a deal not a deal that encourages movement towards a weapon deal with Trump on the way to move away from a weapon… Then we could talk, at least we've got a president that finally has the balls to call him out on it not like John Kerry and Obama chicken Sheetz and poor deal makers… And maybe the Iranians should stop saying death to America a long time ago you think???

  93. MoonInSky says:

    It's Yara's first time in Tehrangeles? But he has such a Valley Girl voice – I thought he was a native Angeleno. At least Iranians blend into the white American world extremely well. I don't have choice in introducing myself – I'm just seen as a lowly Asian and seen with complete contempt, stereotyped, and excluded.

  94. Кенжетайұлы says:

    Real Iran is not Muslim real one are Zoroastrian rip new iran 😢

  95. Lyn Travis says:

    I know a family in LA county that left Iran years ago because of the dictatorship. They have flourished and are great Americans slash Iranians.

  96. Aryan John says:

    Iran and USA were allied. Thanks to Jimmy Carter killing Shah, things changed dramatically in 1979. Hostage crisis was only an international TV show. No Americans got injured. Iran is still controlled behind the scene by US government.

  97. Gustavo Rodriguez says:

    Iranians are white

  98. Zuleika Bautista says:

    Yara you should come to Houston, Texas there’s a huge persian community here

  99. Benjamin Elkanem says:

    I Don't know why Muslims Keep Listening to CNN And Spreading Fake News.

  100. jeff lim says:

    Farsi is a beautiful language. Tone like music

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