Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Thanks for voting, Iran

Me at Jamshidieh Park

My Iranian Facebook friends have all turned green. I don’t know if they are recycling or conserving energy, what I do know is that they have put a green overlay on their profile images in response to Mir-Hossein Mousavi’s green campaign for president of Iran.

Do you think we should vote? An old friend texted me this morning.

Are you kidding me? I texted back. In the election four years ago, this same old friend tried to encourage friends, family, and strangers to vote for the Reformist candidate Moein despite calls for a boycott. “Do you think America or some other superpower is going to save us? No. We have to vote. It’s the only thing we can do.” In the end, he influenced a couple of people, but could not even get his own family to the polls.

Today he is on his way to Azadi Square to participate in a human chain of Mousavi supporters that will stretch to Sadaghieh about 1.5 kilometers away.

People may wonder why, an American Jew, am so passionate about Iranian elections. It isn’t just that my beloved husband is Iranian and that I lived there for four years and that I speak Persian. It is that for two years I lived under the current president Ahmadinejad’s rule. I was in Tehran when he organized a conference for holocaust deniers. I was there for the cartoon show about the Holocaust that was filled with anti-Semitic stereotypes. I was there when Iranian television rebroadcast the Egyptian serial Protocols of the Elders of Zion. And, believe it or not, I started to wonder if all of the Iranians who had been so friendly and warm and open to me, were not, actually, at heart disgusted with me. I started to wonder if Ahmadinejad did not, indeed, represent the true nature of the culture better than all of the wonderful people I had met.

This election is so important to me because I see an Iran that wants to engage with the world in a peaceful manner. I see an Iran that reflects the best of what I experienced while there: an open, warm-hearted society filled with people that would rather share tea and kebab with you than confront you. I see people who do not hate me either for being American or for being Jewish. I see people who would shake my hand and hug me and dance with me. I see, again, the culture and the people that made me feel so welcome.

Thank you Iranians. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reaffirming what I learned in Iran: that you are a peaceful and open people and that you know very well how to have fun.


Regolo said...

well, just wanted to drop a few lines, I've been following this blog for quite a while, a coupple of years at least. Let me tell you, you did a great job talking to us about what Iran is and especially what is not. Best wishes to all iranians for the next elections, hope that whoever will be elected, will really start working for the people.

Tori said...

Thanks Regolo. I hope that I am right.

lgslivebait said...

We are so rooting for you!!1Staying up all night to try to follow your in the midwest it is about four is following ..and I found your blog..I am hoping for the young people of Iran...yes we want to engage you CAN'T WAIT>>>GO GREEN!!

Steven said...

I don't see this Iran that you see. The system in Iran is rigged, and participating in that system grants it a level of legitimacy. Iran's population have done nothing against their murderous leaders.

Tori said...

Steven, If you notice the date of the post it is from before the election. I stand by what I wrote. I am thanking the people of Iran for showing me that they have not all become AN supporters.

The fact is, participating in the vote was very important. It sent a very powerful message to the regime. Unfortunately it was not one they chose to accept. We are hoping that the violence will end soon and that Iranians will be successful in their search for freedom and democracy and engagement.

BTW, when was the last time you risked your life for what you believe. IRanians are out on the streets now, dying and risking their lives.

Marie said...

I hold my breath. 30 years later, I see again the hope, the desire to be free, the young people taking to the streets. This foreign culture has been an ill-fit for the Persian people. Can the green movement's idealism and desire shift the deep corrupted underbelly of Iran?

Tori said...

We are all holding our breath.