Skip to comments.US Iranians march in California support of our President
Posted on 02/11/2003 4:22:49 PM PST by freedom44
By Charles Proctor DAILY BRUIN CONTRIBUTOR Cproctor@media.ucla.edu
The frustration of Iranian refugees was characterized by a sign stuck in front of the Wilshire Federal Building Monday evening:
"We Know the Lies You Tell / Islamic Regime, Go To Hell!"
This sign and others like it were much in evidence throughout Westwood as roughly 1,000 members of the Persian community marched down Wilshire Boulevard, deploring the 24-year-old Islamic government in Iran and applauding the United States for its hardline stance against such regimes.
"The people of Iran want a referendum monitored by the United Nations to decide their form of government," said Roxanne Gangi, a member of Iranians for Democracy and one of the organizers of the event. "They don't want the Islamic regime anymore and we're here to voice that."
Armed with signs, banners and bullhorns, protesters moved from the Federal Building to Westwood Boulevard, marching all the way to the threshold of UCLA at Le Conte before turning around. Black balloons, symbols of sorrow and solidarity with the Iranian people, trailed in the wake of dozens of American and Iranian flags.
Police estimated the crowd to be around 1,000. Protest organizers put the number between 3,000 to 4,000. The vast majority of protesters were first, second or third generation Iranian immigrants.
An important point many protesters emphasized is the distinction between the Iranian people and the Iranian government, which President Bush branded as a member of the "Axis Of Evil" alongside Iraq and North Korea.
The Islamic regime in Iran, a theocratic republic, gained notoriety in the United States when radicals seized the American embassy in 1979 and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. Since then, U.S.-Iranian relations have been strained.
Protesters accuse the Iranian government of corruption, torture and abuse of power, saying the state is in dire need of reforms in administration, justice and civil liberties.
"The Iranian people do not stand for the Iranian government," said Mike Kazerouni, a fourth-year political science student at UC Irvine.
"The Islamic government, as the Bush administration points out, is one of the hugest sponsors of terrorism in the world. Unfortunately, the Iranian people are one of the first victims of that terrorism."
As a show of their solidarity with the United States, marchers leading the procession carried a large portrait of the Columbia astronauts and three huge American flags.
Feelings about an America-led war with Iraq, though, were mixed.
Many protesters support the U.S.-led war on terrorism, carrying signs professing their thanks and hoping President Bush would turn his attention to the plight of the Iranian people after dealing with Iraq.
"President Bush very clearly stated he has heard the calls for democracy and freedom in Iran," Gangi said. "The people of Iran are very hopeful that the world will look at them and see that we need a democratic government in our country."
However, such feelings don't always turn into a pro-war stance.
"It would definitely hurt," said Pedraum Malekzadeh, a third-year applied mathematics student at UCLA, in regards to war with Iraq. "Bush going into the Middle East would hurt relations with many countries."
Malekzadeh had visited Iran two years ago and had seen the situation of the Iranian people first-hand.
"The situation is bad, the economy is terrible, and people are looking for an answer," he said.
Babak Satiran, who graduated last year from UCLA with a computer science degree, said a coup in Iran would be the ideal form of change and offer the best hope to the Iranian people.
"If we can create a democracy, hopefully there won't be a war with Iran and we can go home," he said.
Another thing I know is that quite a few go back to Iran to visit relatives and cousins so the Iranian people know of our freedoms here in the West..........which may also explain the restlessness of the younger generation back in Iran.
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