Iranian refugee who fled persecution sees his dream of being a taxi driver shattered

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A man who now lives in Plymouth had to ‘give it all up’ to flee state persecution and now has his sights set on becoming a taxi driver. After a nightmare scenario began to unfold eight years ago, frightened and unable to follow his convictions, Isaac Sirinbolaghi had no choice but to start over and flee Iran.

Iran became an Islamic state in 1979, a year before Isaac was born. Working as a gas engineer at the time in 2014, he loved his job but just had to change.

Now living in Plymouth, Isaac wants to become a taxi driver. But he finds that his dreams are shattered by bureaucracy.

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Isaac said, “In Iran it is a crime to convert from Islam to Christianity, so I was fleeing religious persecution. You can be punished in different ways, even the death penalty.

“I had nothing, I didn’t know the language. It has not been an easy journey to start over. Everything I had worked for at home, I had to leave behind. It took me about two years to learn the language. I felt it was important to learn about cultures and to be able to connect with my community and give something back.

Isaac first arrived in Cardiff and stayed in shared accommodation for a time before moving to the South West. The 42-year-old has had a number of jobs while living in Britain, from working on construction sites to driving deliveries.

His desire to record an honest day’s work has never been questioned, but his road to his dream job is blocked by a matter of bureaucracy. Due to having to leave everything behind in his home country, his dream of becoming a taxi driver is in doubt as he was unable to pass Plymouth City Council’s background check, despite he was granted British citizenship in 2020.

My goal is to become a taxi driver, but it was difficult because I was rejected by the city council because I couldn’t bring back a good driving background check from Iran,” he said.

“It is not possible for me to do this DBS check but I have other checks concerning all the other work that I have done while I am here. They didn’t accept me because they want a DBS check from home.

Although he finds his road blocked at the moment, he still hopes to succeed in other ways. He said: ‘I know people in my situation or similar who have come before a panel and they have been able to explain their situation and show the documents they have, so hopefully I can do that as well. I am still in the process of being able to speak to someone so that I can appear before the panel.

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