It’s been almost three weeks since the disputed presidential election in Iran. On Thursday, the government announced that seven more people had been arrested for provoking violence during the protests that followed.
While the demonstrations have ended, the voices of protest have not been silenced. In a statement, opposition candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi said again that he considers the government illegitimate.
Sanaz Arjomand is an Iranian-American college student who has spent the summer in Iran with family. In the recent election, she voted for Mousavi. Some of her family members, though, are ardent Ahmadinejad supporters — leading to heated debates in this Iranian home.
What the other side sees
My cousin and my mom warned me before I came to this house. “They’re very religious…their father is very much a part of the regime…are you sure you’ll be comfortable?” With my American bravado, I promised to grin and bear it. They’re family, after all.
When asked who I voted for, I answered honestly that I voted for Moussavi, and did my best not to answer when asked why I didn’t (and don’t) like Ahmadinejad. Things started heating up when, in response to my hesitation, the oldest daughter answered for me that I didn’t like him because others told me not to. I listened to her mother tell me that there was no cheating in the election, that because Ahmadinejad really reached out to the poorer areas (i.e. handed out chickens and potatoes, I thought) he had legitimately won. I didn’t bring up the findings of the Guardian Council, that in their partial review 50 cities had more than 100 percent of the population vote.
The real blow came after a little discussion of my disapproval of Ahmadinejad’s foreign actions. I was absolutely floored when the lady of the house started badmouthing President Obama. I value his idealistic and innovative leadership, and I told her so. Although I could understand her suspiscion towards politicians, I tried to tell her that corruption here doesn’t necessarily mean that every politician in the world is corrupt. I was annoyed by her warnings that after 10 years word would come out about all of Obama’s shady dealings. What sent me over the edge, and unfortunatly and embarassingly made me raise my voice, was her accusation that Zionist lobbyists brought Obama to power!
I was furious. What made her think that? Did she read it somewhere? Was there a study published? No. She got her information from none other than the Iranian state media. This is where my volume went up. The state controls your media, I told her. They’re creating a common enemy so that you’re too scared to confront their dictatorial control.
I shouldn’t have said it. She knew to let matters cool down after that, saying that my view was one way to look at it, sure. I listened politely as her older daughter then calmly told me of Moussavi’s frailities, of his political spin and his revolution-era Islamic zeal. That’s fine, and I don’t doubt for a moment that Moussavi and even his wife got caught up as was explained. What I cared about when I voted was a new face for Iran, the hope that brought young people out into the streets because they thought their vote could make a difference, could change their country into something livable, something at least a tiny bit better than it is now.
– Sanaz Arjomand
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