Gothenburg firefighter faces deportation to Iran: 'I can't live there for one second'

Becky Waterton
Becky Waterton - [email protected]
Gothenburg firefighter faces deportation to Iran: 'I can't live there for one second'
Mohammadi has been offered a job as a firefighter in Gothenburg starting this summer, but is now not sure he will be able to stay in Sweden. Photo: Supplied

Firefighter trainee Amir Mohammadi's biggest wish is to serve in the Swedish army and defend the values of the country he now calls home. Instead, he now faces being deported to Iran, with a two-year ban on returning.


"I'm devastated," Mohammadi told The Local shortly after he was told his asylum application had been rejected.

"The last two weeks have been hell on earth for me. If it had not been for the people around me, for my close friends, for my colleagues... I'm in shock over how many people are keeping me together and holding on to me."

Mohammadi, 28, left Iran as a teenager and hasn't lived there since. He has been living in Sweden since 2011 on a series of different permits, originally arriving as a dependant of his father, who was in the country on a work permit.

In the Migration Agency’s decision, seen by The Local, the agency concedes that Mohammadi “has developed social relations and a private life in Sweden”, for example through his studies and work, but argues that they're outweighed by the “state’s interest in regulated migration”.

Mohammadi argues that he contributes to Sweden’s national security, through, for example, a wartime placement in logistics as a truck driver with the Voluntary Automobile Corps (FAK), as well as his job as a firefighter. He also argues that he contributes to Sweden’s economy through working and paying taxes and has never taken a state loan or grant, paying his own way through university.

“I have essentially sacrificed my entire life in order to integrate into Swedish society and have still been denied,” he said.

Mohammadi with classmates at the MSB Revinge fire training facility in June 2023. Photo: Supplied

On top of this, Mohammadi believes that he meets the criteria for being in need of protection as an asylum seeker on a number of grounds.

He is bisexual, and as sexual acts with members of the same sex are illegal in Iran, punishable by death, this puts his life in danger if he were to be found out. He is also worried that he could be forced to enter an arranged marriage by relatives in Iran if made to return.

In addition to this, he no longer identifies as Muslim, which is considered a serious crime in Iran, and he is a critic of the Iranian regime, which he describes as "brainwashing". He has served in the French Foreign Legion, a Nato member, which he believes could lead Iranian authorities to suspect him of espionage and therefore make him a target.

“The whole society… It's the Stone Age. People my age and your age are just getting killed out in the streets, getting hanged for just expressing their feelings, showing their hair, listening to music that could be provoking or drinking alcohol, basic kinds of freedoms for young adults,” he said. “I can’t live there for one second.”


The Migration Agency, on the other hand, does not believe any of these grounds qualify Mohammadi for protection, as, the agency argues, there is no concrete evidence that Iranian authorities know about his sexual orientation, his time in the foreign legion or his political or religious beliefs, or that he would act on his beliefs or sexual orientation once in Iran in a way which could put him in danger.

In addition to this, the agency argues that Mohammadi has not provided sufficient evidence for his sexual orientation or shown evidence that he “has the intention of living as a bisexual in the future”, despite him giving specific details of the people he has had relationships with, both in his early teens prior to leaving Iran and during his time in Sweden.

“Nor has it emerged that he would be perceived as bisexual if he returned to Iran,” a document detailing the agency’s decision reads. “He therefore does not risk persecution on the basis of sexual orientation, or attributed sexual orientation. Accordingly, he cannot be granted a residence permit as a refugee on those grounds.”

The agency also argues that Mohammadi waited too long – five years – between discovering he was attracted to men and informing the Migration Agency of his sexual orientation. He had not yet come out to his father, who he lived with, and was worried about him finding out.

“It cannot be ruled out that you are claiming your sexual orientation as a new factor for the sole purpose of obtaining a residence permit in Sweden,” the agency wrote.


“I was trying to hide it even from myself,” Mohammadi argues. “I was just telling lies to myself that that’s not the case, because the way of thinking, the way of reasoning that was drilled into my mind in my past home in Iran, you get these feelings of guilt against yourself. And it took many years for me to accept myself… It was an excruciatingly hard process of getting through it, and it’s just not easy to tell as the first thing, especially when it comes to a government agency.” 

Mohammadi did not originally apply for asylum in Sweden, living in the country on work permits until 2016. After mistakenly working too much – almost 80 hours a week – he was deemed to have breached the terms of his work permit and issued his first order to leave in 2017, with a two-year ban on returning to Sweden.

He was eventually granted another work permit in 2019. When that expired, he left Sweden for France to join the foreign legion – foreigners who serve for three years qualify for French citizenship – but he was forced to return home to Sweden after he was discharged following an injury.

Unfortunately for Mohammadi, the fact that he’d left Sweden for France “with the aim of living in France for an extended period” was later cited by the Migration Agency as an indication that he was not sufficiently integrated into Swedish society.

“I told the Migration Agency that I chose the French Foreign Legion and the French army since they are part of Nato and the European Union,” he said.


Although Mohammadi has family in Iran – his “extremely religious” mother still lives there, as well as some other relatives – his father and brother both live in Sweden, while his sisters live in Belgium and the UK.

“This is my family, I have my friends and my colleagues here, all of this stuff gave me power and courage. I'm willing to put up my life to defend all these virtues and values of freedom and being able to be who I am and who I’m supposed to be,” he said.

A date has not yet been set for Mohammadi’s departure, as he has appealed the most recent deportation order to Stockholm’s Administrative Courts of Appeal.

“A deadline for leaving Sweden will only start to apply once the decision has become legally binding,” Migration Agency press chief Jesper Tegroth told The Local, “when the court of appeal makes a decision or if the decision is not appealed within three weeks”.

Tegroth declined to comment further on Mohammadi’s case, citing the fact that it is still ongoing.

As far as plans for the future are concerned, Mohammadi finds it hard to even consider the possibility that he will be granted the right to live in Sweden.

“It just seems like a completely unrealistic option for me after 13 years of getting these answers all the time,” he said.


If he did get the chance to stay, however, he said he’s made some promises that he’s determined to keep.

One is to a captain in the Swedish army, whose son is now a close friend, who originally helped Mohammadi get involved in the army's volunteer organisation Försvarsutbildarna in 2013.

“I need to do my year in the Swedish army when I get citizenship… for me to be able to do my duty for this country, that’s above and beyond,” he said.

“I don’t care what part of the army that is, but the promise I gave to him, I’m going to hold it whatever the costs.”

If he was allowed to stay, he also has the ultimate goal of using his education and training to help contribute to European security.

“After getting my Organisational Leadership bachelor’s degree along with my firefighter’s course being done, I hope I could be part of crisis management and try to help as much as possible considering the situation in Eastern Europe and Ukraine and how the future of Europe is changing.”


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ML 2024/01/29 09:16
He's going to be deported after dedicating himself to Swedish society, and obvious peril in returning to a country like Iran (they are able to read this paper you know, he's already been outed as a result of this article). Still we have tons of immigrants who on the other hand don't contribute anywhere near as much, and we still let them stay here as long as they want
John Worrall 2024/01/27 00:52
Hope the Gothenburg firefighters show their close camaraderie and support him. So what do the migration authority do if he returned and got killed, just shrug their shoulders and move on I guess, disgraceful
Mike 2024/01/26 15:31
He has been here for 13 years & proven himself to be an asset to society. I don’t understand based on that evidence, he isn’t allowed to stay or apply for citizenship. Madness

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