This gorgeous Iranian model facing prison after her fashion snaps were branded “indecent” is now homeless after fleeing to Paris where she cannot work because her asylum bid has not yet been approved.
Facing jail for spreading “anti-Islamic culture”, Negzzia – real name Negin Ahm – fled Iran and first went to Istanbul before saving up 5,000 EUR (4,450 GBP) doing photo shoots and hopping on a plane to Paris, hoping for a new life in one of the world’s greatest fashion capitals.
However, the dream quickly turned into a nightmare when the 29-year-old model realised that she had to wait for her asylum application to be granted to be able to begin working and with her funds running out, she ended up sleeping on the streets.
She reportedly spent last winter sleeping rough on the street and in a car park. She said living on the street was hard, adding: “The first night was very hard. The second night was better because I was trying to convince myself that I could do it. The third night was the worst: my back was very sore [from sleeping on the ground] and that is when I realised it was not going to be easy.”
Her life on the street was reportedly surrounded by danger, with criminals and profiteers lurking in the background. But thankfully, other homeless people helped her and gave her tips on how to survive.
Not being able to work without her paperwork being in order, she said she had to sell her clothes. She said: “I sold my bag with my all my dresses for 10 euros, to be able to eat.”
She told French local media: “I was not careful. In Iran, nobody prevents you from being a model, but you have to be very careful, and I wasn’t.”
She said that a photographer in Tehran had tried to rape her and that she had resisted, resulting in him telling the authorities that she had forbidden photographs.
Luckily she was able to flee Iran before the virtue police (called the ‘Gasht-e Ershad’ – ‘Guidance Patrols’ in English) were able to throw her in prison or whip her, as required by Islamic law.
She went to Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, where she posed as a model for photographers. However, she is said to have found the political climate there to be no different than in Tehran and decided to fly to the French capital Paris to follow her dreams.
She said: “When I arrived I didn’t know anyone, I went to see a fashion show thanks to a security man who let me in. I felt that this was my life and that I should try at all costs to stay here.”
Negzzia has filled in all the paperwork to remain in France legally, with her asylum application being registered with the French authorities Ofpra (the ‘Office francais de protection des refugies et apatrides’) on 13th November 2018.
The bureaucratic process, however, is slow, and she was forced to endure blackmail and promises of work in exchange for sexual favours. She was offered work as an escort, but refused, saying: “I didn’t come to Paris to become a prostitute.”
As an asylum seeker, she has 6.80 EUR (6.05 GBP) a day to live off. She is quoted in French daily Le Figaro as saying that she tried to kill herself three times.
Her story struck a chord with lawyer Sahand Saber, who was born in France but who is of Iranian origin and who is now helping her.
Negzzia is hopeful about the future, saying: “I love Paris, because of its magic and beauty. But for the moment, I haven’t found anything here and I’ve lost everything. But I can’t go back to my country without risking my life. The goal is to resist, until the asylum application is accepted and I can work as a model in Paris.”
Her story seems to have struck a chord with the French authorities too, with French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner saying on Twitter – at 4AM: “She will naturally be offered asylum.”
While many are delighted, others have responded to the minister’s Tweet with scorn and by ridiculing him.
‘Proxima Centauri’ said: “Is this the parody account? I’m not following anymore!”
While ‘Loan Torondel’ said: “Mr Castaner, this situation is not isolated. NGOs have been warning you for several months about the unacceptable living conditions of asylum seekers in Paris: men, women and children living on the streets or in camps.”
‘PAPACITO’ was harsher, saying: “We can give French nationality because a chick is hot but we can’t strip bomb-setting rats of their French nationality?”
‘Ines Lacroix’ said: “Ah now it is for a model you are finally moving your a*se.”
‘tortue geniale’ said: “He is going to offer her a flatsharing deal.”
In the meantime, Negzzia has shared the minister’s tweet on her Instagram page, where she currently has 121,000 followers, captioning it: “Mr Minister, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support. Your message moved me a lot. France is a wonderful country that I love and, like all Iranian artists, I feel so close to.
“It is an immense pleasure to finally be able to look at the future with more serenity. Thank you again, I will do right by this hand that your country is extending towards me. Vive la France!”