CALDERDALE’S Iranian-born Mayor Nader Fekri welcomed 16 new British citizens to the borough.
They included Abdul Amir Bahraini and his wife Azam Pirhayati who fled Iran seven years ago.
Councillor Fekri told the group gathered at Spring Hall, Halifax, it was a special day.
He said during the 19th century many thousands came to work in Halifax from Ireland and Scotland and they were followed in the 20th century by people from Eastern Europe and elsewhere.
“Some were very successful in developing the community and cultural wealth of our area,” he said.
“This day is a new beginning and a day of celebration that will leave a lasting meaning for you.”
Amir and Azam are now building a new life in Halifax with their daughter, Niloufar, aged 15, who attends Sowerby Bridge High School.
They are both teachers but he is currently working as a chef and his wife has aspirations to become a researcher.
“People here are intelligent and cultured and I respect the freedom in society. That is very important,” she said.
“Our daughter loves England and is now perfect with the English language.”
Ako Sabir, fled Iraq in 2004.
“I’m so happy. I like Halifax,” said Ako, who does store work.
Councillor Fekri said today’s citizenship ceremonies, introduced in 2004, are a big improvement for newcomers.
He became a British citizen while living in Manchester and was interviewed by police and a magistrate. His papers were sent off and came back about 18 months later.
“It was important for me but an anti-climax. This shows the bond between individuals, their community and the UK,” he said.