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Iran's elections: The view from the US

Mousavi wins in Boston: Opinions of some Iranians who voted in Beantown

BOSTON — Mir Hossein Mousavi won the vote of Iranians in Boston with 89.5 percent of the votes cast at polling stations in Boston and Cambridge. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad got 3.3 percent, while Mehdi Karoubi took 6.6 percent and Mohsen Rezai got 0.33 percent.

Iranians across the U.S. went to polling stations Friday to vote for the 10th Presidential election. Forty-two polling stations were located in 35 U.S. cities by the Iranian Interest Section at the Pakistani embassy in Washington. The polling stations were run by volunteers and chosen by the Interest Section.

According to the 2006 U.S. Census, 414,000 Iranians live in the U.S., with the largest concentration in California where there were five polling stations this year. Iranians could vote using a valid passport or their birth certificate for identification. Counting was done in each station and the numbers reported to the Interest Section in Pakistan. There was one polling station in Boston and one in Cambridge. Manouchehr Mottaki, Iran's foreign minister, told reporters Friday that the participation of Iranians living abroad in the elections increased by 300 percent this year.

Iranians in the U.S. overwhelmingly supported Mousavi, according to those interviewed in Boston. Here are some of their views.

Niloufar Sajadi
“I am an artist and I voted for Mousavi because I really believe that he, along with his wife, understands the challenges artists face in Iran. His plans for me seemed the best comparing with the other candidates.”

“This year Iranians were much more enthusiastic because they found out that they really could have a say in the elections. They understood that they have choices, and that they can decide for their future.”
“For all the past elections, I was in Iran, but this year, I am not living in Iran, but I know that my vote counts more than ever.”

Iraj Anvar
“This year I voted for Mousavi in the hope of a new beginning. Some of my friends who lived outside Iran traveled back to the country just to participate in the campaigns. This year the campaign season seems to be very different from the previous years. With every single day that Ahmadinejad was president things got worse for the country and its people. Hopefully by electing Mousavi, we would take a step forward, even if it’s a small one.”

Amir Reza Aref
“This was the first time that I was voting outside the country. I voted for Mousavi, because I feel that the foreign policy of Ahmadinejad created a lot of negative feeling towards our country. I am a post-doc student at MIT, and I had a very difficult time getting a visa to come to the U.S. I really hope that by electing Mousavi, a time would come that Iranian students outside the country would have a more peaceful life.”
“I don’t think all the changes that we want will come in a day or two, but I think that electing Mousavi would be a first step. The past four years have been very difficult for the Iranian people. Everyone, have felt the burden of Ahmadinejad’s comments. Maybe this would be a starting point to getting back to what Mr. Khatami had started in Iran.

Mehdi Noori and Shima Parsa Moghadam
Mehdi: “We came all the way from Connecticut to vote. We both voted for Mousavi. I didn’t Mousavi very well, before the campaign. All I had heard about him was from my father and the memories of the time he was prime minister. But the televised debates helped us know the candidates better. The Iranian people want to do whatever they can to have a different president.”
Shima: “I think that if Mousavi is elected, he faces a great challenge. We know from past experience that if the president is not in the same camp as the powers, it would be very difficult for him to make radical changes. We just want to stop the damage that is being done for now. If we elect several consecutive reformists, then we might see more meaningful change.”

Mohsen Behnam
“I don’t want to say who I voted for, but this year has been so different from past years because two very different camps faced rivalry. People were divided: Either they support Ahmadinejad and his government, or they wanted reform. This intensified the competition. The debates fired up the pre-election period even more.”

 More GlobalPost dispatches on Iran: 

Young, Iranian and ready for change

Seven visas: Reporting from Iran

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/middle-east/090612/irans-elections-the-view-the-united-states