Global Politics

Iranian Officials Arrest 'Funny in Farsi' Translator

When Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing up Iranian in America went on sale inside Iran in 2005, Iranians snapped up more than 100,000 copies. The book that had been such a success in America had been translated into Persian by Iranian poet and scholar Mohammed Soleimani Nia.

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(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the audio to hear it.)

Two weeks ago, Iranian authorities arrested Soleimani Nia. According to a petition advocating for his release , he was questioned by intelligence officials in late November. Then in January he was called to the Revolutionary Court. That's when security guards searched his home, seizing electronic devices and documents. His whereabouts since then are unknown.

Iranian American writer Firoozeh Dumas worked closed with Soleimani Nia on the translation of her book Funny in Farsi.

"The irony is Mohammed is the least political person I know," she tells host Marco Werman. "He's like this sort of nerdy poet, and this is why I find it so painful for him to be in prison, because I know that man is completely innocent."

Dumas says Soleimani Nia had been working on developing a website similar to "LinkedIn," designed to help Iranians find jobs.

'I'm guessing that that must have been something that was suspicious for the government," Dumas said.

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