Saturday, May 26, 2007

Deportation looms for Vancouver's 'Dancing Santa

Deportation looms for Vancouver's 'Dancing Santa'. Canadian Border Services Agency extends Iranian's removal date to June 3 as Persian community rallies around activist

VANCOUVER -- Refugee claimant Iraj Ghahremani, 70, has danced as a "Santa Claus" in North Vancouver's Iranian new year festivals since he fled Iran in 1999. But now that Canada has denied him refugee status and ordered Mr. Ghahremani deported next week, the Iranian community fears it will lose a dancer much-loved by children, and that Mr. Ghahremani will be imprisoned in a country where it is forbidden to dance in public. Mr. Ghahremani and his lawyers are hoping to delay the deportation long enough to argue that his dancing - as well as his political activism - will mean imprisonment and punishment in Iran. Canada should let him stay, they say. "I want to bring happiness to the Persian community," Mr. Ghahremani said.

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