By Brenda Waters

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Protesters have been rallying across the country since the U.S. air strike. Among those in Beaver County Thursday night is a 31-year-old doctoral student from Iran who is concerned about his family that still lives there.

Naji Shajarisales is a 31-year-old in Pittsburgh on a student visa who is working on a doctoral degree at Carnegie Mellon University. But recently, concentrating on his studies has been difficult.

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“I do worry about my family, right now it’s at the top of all of my worries,” he says. “I mean, who wouldn’t be?”

Naji came to Pittsburgh 5 years ago and will be here another year. He says his parents are in Iran, which worries him.

“I haven’t been able to see them because of the travel ban, or Muslim ban, that is in effect and basically my parents can’t come and now this happens,” he says.

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Naji says he’s taken part in several protests like the one in Beaver County, but his mind has been on home since the U.S. air strike that killed a prominent Iranian general.

“They basically targeted an Iranian general that would be second to the supreme leader in the country, so the second most powerful man in the country,” explained Naji.

Naji: “It was something that I could never imagine to happen because the consequences would be something that could lead to a war.”
Brenda Waters: “And there was retaliation already.”
Naji: “Yes, that was something I was really hoping not to happen.”

“I love my family. I want them to be safe, like any other person, any other American,” he says.

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There’s a small community of Iranians here, he says. They’re mostly from CMU and Pitt.