A Lady's Ruminations

"Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Friday, June 17, 2005

Iranians Vote in Election Today . . .

. . . but Iranian exiles here in the US want Iranians to boycott it because it is a "sham."

From the Yahoo Story:

Reformers say whether a hardliner or more moderate candidate wins, the election only legitimizes a system in which religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has the final word on every important national issue.

"We want to show the world empty streets," said Los Angeles-based TV journalist Homa Sarshar, who works for several of the Los Angeles-area stations that have supported a boycott.

But, Iranians have different opinions on the election and what fellow Iranians should do.

Hadi Kamyab, 25, who came to the United States to study civil engineering, was among a few dozen who cast their votes in the morning at the Islamic Institute of New York. He said he favors change in his home country, but he rejected calls for an election boycott.

"You must be patient," he said of Iran's slow creep toward a more open democracy. "I think that by voting, by trying to share your vote with your country, it is the only way to change the direction of your country."

For those in favor of a boycott, the word is spread by activists such as Nasrin Mohammadi, 28. Mohammadi, a recent immigrant, says her brotherswere imprisoned, starved and beaten so severely their feet split open and toenails fell off after their 1999 arrest for leading Iran's student movement.

"I want people to stay home, not only for me, because my family has been destroyed, but so nobody else will have to go through what we have gone through," she said through an interpreter, her voice hoarse from repeating her plea. "We want the people of the world to know that Iranians, especially the youth, do not want this regime."

The Bush administration, which has criticized Iran for its nuclear ambitions and said the government sponsors terrorism, calls the election illegitimate in part because many reform candidates were denied a chance to run.