Jewish Journal

L.A.‘s Iranian Americans protest Iran’s election

by Karmel Melamed

June 15, 2009 | 4:18 am

With Los Angeles and Southern California being home to one of the largest populations of Iranians living outside of Iran, local Iranian Americans of various faiths were busy this weekend protesting the sham and undemocratic elections in Iran. The uproar in the larger Iranian community (which included some Jews) began on Friday June 12th outside the Westin hotel near LAX airport where the Iranian government had rented space inside the hotel and set up an illegal voting station there. At total of four Southern California hotels were used by the Iranian government to set up their voting stations. The hotels listed on the official website of the Iranian Interest Section in Washington D.C. included the Westin near LAX, the Hyatt in Irvine, the Embassy Suites in La Jolla and the Ayres Hotel in Ontario. Sources close to this journalist have confirmed that roughly six local political groups opposed to the current Iranian regime were protesting outside the Westin LAX hotel where nearly 1,000 local Iranian Americans came to cast their votes for the Iranian elections. These sources on hand indicated that the people who came to vote where not only Mousavi voters who actually thought they could make a difference in the election, but a large group of the voters were openly pro-Ahmadinejad supporters.

Members of the six local Iranian opposition have spent the last few months visiting various hotels and hotel chains writing letters and asking them not to rent space to these Iranian government representatives. The oppositions groups have been successful in some cases here in Southern California in getting the hotels to deny the Iranian regime’s people from renting space for their voting events. Sources close to this journalist said Iranian government proxies were originally planning on organizing and holding their voting secessions in a few Denny’s restaurants at first because many local hotels were denying them space. On June 13 and 14, hundreds of local Iranian Americans gathered outside the Federal Building near Westwood to protest the recent “landslide victory” of Iran’s current president. These protesters included both local Iranians who despise the radical Islamic regime in Iran and those who were supporters of Iran’s “moderate” presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi.

On an interesting note before the Iranian presidential election, a small contingency of younger pro-Ahmadinejad supporters had during the last several been speaking to crowds of Iranian American students at UCLA and other campuses in the L.A. area in an effort to encourage them to vote for Ahmadinejad. two weeks ago as many as seven pro-Ahmadinejad supporters were standing in front of the Borders bookstore in Westwood, waving Iranian government flags and chanting slogans in favor of the Iranian president. 

What disturbs me as an Iranian Jew who knows about the Iranian government’s evils first hand is how the Western media and some U.S. officials actually believed that Iran’s elections would somehow magically be fair and democratic. Anyone who knows Iran and its current regime knows full well that that government is a totalitarian dictatorship where all the power lies in the hands of the Iranian “supreme leader” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Basically Khamenei makes all policy decisions for Iran including issues regarding Iran’s nuclear weapon’s program, while is merely a powerless stooge of the regime spewing propaganda that Khamenei and other ruling clerics feed him. In addition to Khamenei, a group of radical Islamic clerics called the “Guardian Council” is in charge of vetoing any parliamentary law that is passed but is somehow deemed to be “un-Islamic and they may qualifying or disqualifying any political candidate. Of course, the supreme leader, can and has overridden some of the decisions of the Guardian Council. So based on these facts, HOW ON EARTH could anyone believe Iran’s elections were fair or democratic in the first place?

Sadly the Obama Administration was clearly misled by their Iran advisers and analysts. They wrongly believe that the real power in Iran would stay neutral in the elections and would let the people actually elect someone without fraud and vote rigging, even when it comes to the four out of 470 candidates which the powers that be had approved for their loyalty to the regime and the supreme leader. Now they have had a rude awakening and Obama needs to seriously reconsider his decisions to negotiate with Iran directly because this move by his administration would undermine support for the U.S. among younger Iranians living in Iran who make up nearly 70 percent of the population.

Lastly what blows my mind is the fact that Western news media outlets really believe that Mosavi and other “reformists” will bring about freedom or some sort of change to Iran with their policies. The fact of the matter is that these supposed reformists like the former president Mohamad Khatami, not only made Iran less free, but they were more oppressive to the population than all the past hardliners. For example, more journalists and political voices opposed to the regime were executed under the reformists in the late 1990s. Khatami’s government also killed, tortured and imprisoned hundreds of opposition student leaders during the 1999 student uprisings. Furthermore the nuclear weapons program in Iran was also secretly going forward at full speed during Khatami’s watch and he knew all about it! As for Mosavi, in the 1980s he served as the last Prime Minister in Iran and has had a long bloody history of having his political rivals murdered after being imprisoned for “treason against the state”. So how on earth could such a man be a “nice freedom-loving reformist” when he’s had a horrible history of human rights violations?

An Iranian protester in Westwood speaking to a news media personality about the protest.
(left to right; Iranian protesters Babak Namdar and Roozbeh Farahanipour protesting outside the Westin LAX hotel on June 12).
An unknown Iranian protestor who has wrapped herself up in the Iranian flag outside the Westin hotel.
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Karmel Melamed is an internationally-published freelance journalist based in Southern California.

Since 2000, Melamed has specialized in covering the growing influential...

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