An Iranian refugee-turned-successful British healthcare entrepreneur says Trump's immigration ban is 'inhuman'
'I think my life was in danger'"I'm one of these guys you see on the TV," he said, referring to the ongoing global refugee crisis.
"I left Iran in 1982, when I was 16 years old … the revolution had happened, the universities had all closed … and I also was involved in the wrong political organisations. And basically I think my life was in danger, so I had to get out, like any other political refugee." He is now a British citizen, and has never returned to Iran.
AP Photo/Roy Essoyan
"I built a chain of hospitals in Britain. It was called Circle, I got lucky, it went from nothing to 3,000 employees, a few hundred million in revenue, I took it public," before leaving the business and founding his current venture - Babylon Health.
"We sat down and said, 'can we make healthcare accessible and affordable, and [as a] result be able to put it in the hands of ever human being on earth?' And that's how we started Babylon."
'Values matter in everything'When Parsa and I spoke on Monday, there was some confusion as to whether he - despite holding British citizenship and a global entry visa to the US - would be able to return to America, with UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson and the US embassy in London issuing conflicting advice. (Downing Street currently insists that dual-nationals like him will be unaffected, according to The Guardian.)
"Frankly, my attitude towards that is the rest of the world is ginormous. We just do business with the rest of the world, right?" It's a position that Parsa, because of his success, can take. But for others - like refugees seeking asylum in America - there may be nowhere else to turn.
Rob Price/Business Insider
Parsa believes other companies have a duty to speak up
I spent much of Monday on the phone and sending out emails, trying to gauge the reaction of the British and European technology industry to the executive order. While some were vocal in their opposition - like buzzy money transfer startup TransferWise - but other companies, like food delivery app Deliveroo and music streaming streaming service Spotify, declined to comment.But Parsa believes companies have a duty not to remain silent on important issues. "People have values, they identify with values. Why do people love Body Shop? Why do they love Innocent Drinks? … [other] companies are standing and saying 'I don't want to say something that upsets people.' I mean companies need to have humanity, and have a point of view."He added: "So no, I don't have much time for people who say 'that's okay' … that it's okay to stay quiet on issues."
Here's the full memo that Ali Parsa sent to his employees and contacts (emphasis ours):
"I have been lucky: I have lived in developed countries and in emerging countries; I have been a native and an immigrant; I have habited among the poor and the rich. But it doesn't matter where I was, what I have been or who I have been with, people always seem to have the same dreams, just different opportunities. The US stood for a promise to give the opportunity to live that dream. That promise attracted the best talents from far and wide, and made America amongst the most prosperous in the world. We judge people by the humanity of their hearts, the ambition of their dreams, the purpose of their hard work, and the extent of their wisdom and not by the country of their birth. Anything else is economically shortsighted, politically divisive, and socially abhorrent. Values matter in everything, including our national security and prosperity."
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