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What British Iranians think about the rising tension

Kim Image copyright KIM
Image caption Kim says it's always been difficult to visit Iran, but the current situation makes things more unsafe

"I will probably never see my grandparents again."

Kim, 27, is a British Iranian living in the UK. Her parents came to the UK in their 20s, but she still has a lot of family still living there.

The escalating tensions between Iran and the US have been causing Kim a lot of concern for her family.

With the American assassination of top Iranian military commander General Qasem Soleimani and Iran's retaliation missile strike on a US military base - relations between the two countries are on a knife edge.

Outside the region, British Iranians are concerned by what is happening in a country they consider to be a homeland. Radio 1 Newsbeat has been finding out what they feel about the situation.

"It's close to my heart and I'm worried about the family. We're all worried about them, their safety, their future," Kim tells Newsbeat.

"I don't think it's safe for any British dual national to go to Iran at the moment. I wouldn't feel comfortable if my parents went."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Millions of people have turned out to mourn General Qasem Soleimani in Iran

'Really scared'

Parsa Shahab is a British-Iranian finance student raised in Tehran, studying in the UK.

He agrees with Kim that the current situation is scary for Iranians outside Iran. Parsa says his sister was in Iran when General Soleimani was assassinated, and he told her to return to the UK for her safety.

"Many of my friends at university had plans to go back to Iran after exams finish. But they've cancelled because they're too frightened about what's going to happen, and fears over airstrikes and attacks in Iran."

He also says there's been an impact on Iranian students who are relying on money from back home.

"Iranian currency has been hit. So students who are receiving funds from their parents are facing financial difficulties because the money has lower value."

"So there's a lot of uncertainty for those of us outside the country too."

Image copyright Parsa Shahab
Image caption Parsa thinks any type of major conflict could lead to serious security problems in Iran

Parsa, 21, stayed in Iran until he was 16, returning regularly to visit his family. He says General Soleimani and Iranian forces have been fighting IS and protecting Iran from terrorist attacks.

"So if there's going to be attacks and we have weak borders, I'm frightened."

Kim blames the decision by President Trump to kill General Soleimani for sparking more dangerous times in the region.

"I'm not a Soleimani sympathiser or supporter at all. But that act has made the world a much more dangerous place. So you have to also think about the innocent people that are going to suffer the consequences of his careless actions."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said today that the General had "the blood of British troops on his hands".

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThis footage, reportedly of the missile attack, was shown on Iranian state TV

'It's too risky'

After Iran's response, some such as 23-year-old Ali Reza Shahrestani are worried about the effect on the country's economy.

Ali is an entrepreneur working with businesses in the UK and Iran.

"Nobody wants to invest in areas where there's war. It's too risky. So you need to have a backup option. And as someone in business, people are looking elsewhere."

Image copyright Ali Reza Shahrestani
Image caption Ali says the heightened military tensions will have a major effect on investment and jobs.

He says the internet blackouts in Iran create uncertainty.

"It happens a lot ... sometimes 12 days in a row. So there are threats to businesses because they work with tech and there's such a reliance on the internet now."

"If people stop investing in the country, jobs are at risk."

Parsa agrees: "What will happen to the many young Iranians who are educated, have startups, and want a better relationship with the West? With everything that's happening, they cannot have that. They can't progress."

Facing discrimination

Kim says being Iranian in the West, particularly in a time of tension, means people sometimes look at her differently.

"It's because of the perception of the Middle East. People have joked before 'oh you must be a bomber' when they've found out I'm Iranian."

And Ali has faced something similar in business.

"I have problems in meetings with investors simply because I am Iranian by blood. Even though I have a British passport, I am criticised because of my origin."

What now?

Ali says that the current tensions between Iran and the US have created unity amongst Iranians.

"Even if people are against the regime and didn't like the general, when someone attacks us, everyone in Iran tries to unite and come together. And you can see that on the streets."

He's not surprised by Iran's response because "they'll always protect" Iranians.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionIs expecting Iran to de-escalate realistic?

Some commentators think Iran's retaliatory strike could actually lead to a de-escalation in tensions.

And Parsa, Kim and Ali all want the same thing.

"We were taking steps forward before Trump was elected, I hope we can return to that. But it's just so hard to know what's going to happen," says Kim.

Parsa adds: "Iran and the US haven't had peace for a long time. So assuming there's not going to be any tension is unrealistic.

"But I'm hoping we can see stability in the relationship with the US and Europe. That would be good for everyone."

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