Iran Elections protests around the world and in cyberspace
Thousands of Iranians and some non-Iranians have taken to the streets around the world to protest the results of the Iranian elections and there seems to be no end in sight to the protests both in person and online on social networking sites such as twitter and Facebook.
Many Iranians overseas sent in absentee ballots, and the overwhelming sentiment among the demonstrators was their votes had not been counted.
Protests in Washington; London, England; Toronto, Canada; Berlin, Germany; and Los Angeles, California, each drew several hundred people. All of them were seemingly anti-Ahmadinejad.
On Sunday in Los Angeles, thousands of people gathered to protest Ahmadinejad's win.
In Westwood, protesters waved red, green and white Iranian flags and chanted, "Where are our votes, where are our votes?"
The crowd gathered not far from the Little Tehran neighborhood, a strip of Westwood Boulevard that has become a retail center for Iranians in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and the San Fernando Valley.
Protestors in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia protested on Monday and police fired tear gas on the crowd of several hundred. Earlier in the day there had been a much larger protest outside the United Nations, asking for them to nullify the election.
The protesters, mainly students from the local Iranian community of some 9,000 people, continued their march along a road outside the UN building.
In Dubai, where thousands of Iranians live, they protested outside their consulate chanting 'Ahmadinejad is a dictator'.
There were also protests in Paris, Toronto, Berlin and Washington.
The European Union has called for Tehran to investigate the results.
“The very serious doubts that have been raised about the free and fair nature of the election counting process are obviously of major concern to many people in Iran,” British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said.
Even media in Saudi Arabia said the results were undemocratic.
“Falsifying the results is the easiest of tasks for a religious-security regime that does not believe in leaving to chance what it considers to be its right,” said the Saudi daily Asharq al-Awsat.
In London, about 300 people turned out to protest in front of the Iranian embassy, but police said no one was arrested.
In Vancouver, many young Iranians took to the streets over the weekend and there were some violent clashes with police.
One young Iranian said:
“Most of us are here because of the (1979 Islamic) revolution. All the people you see on the streets in Iran are our age. If I had not left Iran, I would be on the streets and fighting for my rights.”
In a way, this message of rigged election results has triggered a whole new thought process behind the leadership of the country entirely.
“You have an entire nation of youth who are highly educated and suppressed. The green (campaign) now represents what Obama brought to the States – that change (and) momentum that they’ve been waiting 30 years for.”
“(Mousavi) may not have all the answers, but he came forward and said, ‘I want to improve relations with the West and create equality for women.’ It ignited a spirit within the youth that hasn’t happened in 30 years.”
Iranians outside of Iran have been urged to use cyberspace and social networking sites to get the message out about what is happening inside their country. Even non-Iranians are being asked to protest in solidarity online to prevent a censoring of information.
Twitter is fast becoming the medium of choice:
In one link, Tweeters are being urged to set their location to Tehran and reset their time zone accordingly because it's harder to find the information gatherers if everyone becomes an Iranian.
Iran however, has asked the foreign media to restrict their reporting of these 'illegal protests' organized through the internet.
“No reporting activities should take place without coordination and permission of this office,” the Culture Ministry’s office for the foreign media said today in a faxed statement in Tehran. “Reporters should not take part in news events that have not been announced by this office.” Reporters should avoid being present at or covering “illegal protests” without the permission of the Interior Ministry, it added.
Mediums such as the telephone, e-mail, texting and access to the foreign press have all been restricted inside Iran, as protestors think that the Iranian government do not want people to see what is happening inside Iran.
It’s more likely now that the government will use force on demonstrators, Geneive Abdo, an Iran expert at the Century Foundation, a New York-based research group, said in an interview.
“They prefer to kill people if necessary and calm the situation,” Abdo said. “If it continues like this, it will turn into a serious rebellion.”
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