The gay Iranian poet seeking asylum in Israel has been awarded a visa extension allowing him to stay in the country until October. Payam Feili’s current visa was set to expire, sparking concerns that he would have to leave Israel, a country he says he loves.
Speaking to The Israel Project, and advocacy group, he said that he was planning to stay long-term.
“With the help of my friends I can establish a simple life here. I don’t need any help from any government, be it Israeli or not,” he said.
He said that while he has not met with any officials, he is confident he will be able to stay in the country he fled to in order to escape persecution. He reportedly said that he does not believe the recent elections in Iran will change the situation for the better.
“The main problem with the Islamic Republic of Iran is that they don’t even want you to talk about your personal identity,” he said. “The Islamic Republic of Iran grants you an identity as a Shia person, a person who hates the whole world, and they want you to adopt that as your identity and nothing else.”
After fleeing Iran in 2014 for Turkey, he traveled to Israel to participate in a poetry festival.
He considers Israel a liberal country where minorities are protected.
“From the beginning, I wasn’t looking for a place where I can have an easy life,” he said. “I do understand that this is a liberal country where minorities are supported and endorsed.”
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