Thousands of Iranian-Americans rallied in New York on Wednesday, September 14, against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iranian regimeâ€™s new terrorist president. The event was widely reported by international media and the following are excerpts:
CBS News, September 14 - ... When Ahmadinejad was granted a visa to enter the United States in order to attend the U.N. summit, many Iranian-Americans were outraged. A group of them came together to form the New York Committee Against Ahmadinejad (NYCA).
â€œWe decided to form this community to oppose his presence in the aftermath of the anniversary of Sept. 11,â€ NYCA spokesperson Shirin Nariman said.
To Hoorah Mostashari, an Iranian-American who attended the protest, Ahmadinejadâ€™s presence in New York had a visceral effect. Mostashari was so outraged that she traveled all the way from California to attend the protest, she said. Mostashari garnered up painful memories of what she said happened to her when she returned to Iran in 1981, after having left the country at the age of 15 to go to the United States.
Mostashari recalled the day when she said Iranian soldiers showed up at her door, giving her cause to regret her decision to return home. It had only been two years since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, and anti-American sentiments were running high. Mostashari was afraid.
Having just returned from the belly of the Great Satan itself, where she studied at UCLA, Mostashari had every reason to believe that she would fall under the fundamentalist regimeâ€™s suspicion. She had the foresight to bury her collection of opposition newspapers in the ground, and when the soldiers came, she said she provided them with a false identity, claiming that she was her sister. Her quick thinking might have saved her life.
â€They would have killed me,â€ she said. â€œI had to lie, in fear of persecution.â€
After her close call with the Ayatollahâ€™s forces, Mostashari said that she fled Iran again and returned to the United States, where she has lived ever since. She now owns a cigar and wine shop in southern California. Still afraid of the repercussions she might face from the Iranian government, she said that she has not returned to the country in which she was born, where she has family that she has not seen in 24 years.
â€I want to go back, but only if itâ€™s free,â€ she said.
Mostashari agreed with the American State Department that President Ahmadinejad is a terrorist, and she was outraged that he was allowed to enter the United States to speak in front of the General Assembly.
Many protestors asserted that the Iranian president was one of the students who took 66 Americans hostage in Tehran in 1979. But an internal government review found that there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that he was closely involved in the takeover. Ahmadinejad has denied that he took part in targeting the American Embassy.
"I believed that if we did that, the world would swallow us," he said, according to an aide, Meisan Rowhani.
Lynn Smith Derbyshire, an American woman who spoke at the protest, lost her brother in October of 1983, when he was killed along with 240 other U.S. marines in a terrorist strike on his military barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. In 2003, A U.S. District Court judge ruled that Iran had sponsored the attack and had directed the terrorist group Hezbollah to carry it out, but Derbyshire and other victims' family members have still not received compensation.
â€œTwenty-two years later, there is still a hole in my heart and in my family and in my life. And twenty-two years later, there is still no justice,â€ Derbyshire told the receptive crowd, her voice cracking with emotion.
Although Ahmadinejad has not been accused of having a direct role in the Beirut bombing, Derbyshire is appalled that the Iranian president was allowed to appear at the U.N.
â€œI think that he should not be here at the invitation of the U.N. He should be here to stand trial for his crimes,â€ she said.
The protest had a festive atmosphere, with Iranian-Americans joining political activists who came from as far away as Denmark to show solidarity. They danced and sang amid a sea of blue and yellow balloons and confetti.
â€œThe rally calls for a firm and resolute policy by the U.S. and the international community in the face of the growing threat of the Iranian regime,â€ the NYCA stated in its policy goals. â€œThis policy must reject both appeasement and foreign war in favor of support for Iranian people and organized resistance.â€
A diverse slate of speakers took the podium and addressed the ebullient audience, ranging from NYCA representatives to former New York Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen. The speakers and protestors were united by their anger with the Iranian regime and frustration with the world for not doing enough to quell it.
â€œOh, Washington. Does the phrase, â€˜We stand for democracy in the Middle Eastâ€™ have real meaning, or was it just a political slogan?â€ Rabbi Daniel M. Zucker, one of several religious leaders who addressed the crowd, asked.
The resolution's rally read in part, "The Iranian people demand the overthrow of this regime and democratic change in their country. We commend remarks by the US president who underscored the illegitimacy of the regime's elections and said that a few unelected men are ruling over the Iranian people. We declare that for some time now, the Iranian people have arisen for their freedom. It is time that the world community adopts a decisive policy toward the clerical regime and recognizes the right of the Iranian people for freedom. This regime is on its way out and the future belongs to the Iranian people and Resistance."
The resolution also condemned the mullahs' barbaric atrocities and declared support for the hunger strike by Iranian political prisoners in the Iranian regime's prisons.