An international affair: Iran
By April Robertson
Shadi Jamshidy, a UA architecture student from Iran, was visiting family for the summer when the Iranian presidential election took place.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi and Mohsen Rezaee were the candidates. Ahmadinejad won the election, but pressure from multiple governments prompted a re-election. Ahmadinejad took that election, too.
In response, the popular candidate Mousavi asked Iranians to protest the election results and the Green Revolution was formed.
Months later, Iranians are still protesting, especially the students of Tehran University, who protest every day by fasting from the food in the cafeteria, banging on their empty plates and yelling, “We don’t like the government.”
Jamshidy’s political view became a priority in her life as she experienced her family’s passionate discussions and witnessed her friends’ demonstrations on the local campus when she arrived in Iran last summer.
“(Our parents’ generation) experienced the change from monarchy to democracy, so they remembered those times and wanted to support Mousavi,” she said.
During Jamshidy’s stay, the election affected every move she made. She had made plans to visit family and old friends while she was there, but those plans changed as the election put a damp mood on the nation and few people traveled.
“No one believed that Ahmadinejad won twice as many votes as Mousavi,” she said. “Everyone got depressed.”
Even though many people wanted to respond to Mousavi’s request that people go to the street and protest the election results, the stakes were too high for some.
“If you go to the streets (to protest), you don’t know if you’ll be coming back,” Jamshidy said. “Security guards work on commission to beat and arrest one person, they get $250 each.”
Jamshidy’s family lives in Tehran, the capital of Iran, where she says the view of government varies drastically from the rest of the country because of the social status.
“We call the government a ‘potato government’ because they bribe small-town (people) with money and potatoes,” she said.
Jamshidy and her friends were frustrated because so many people attended the voting polls and rules were more strictly enforced than usual.
“They usually would supply more ballots as they needed them and give (voters) more time if the lines were too long,” but this time, the ballots were not refilled and the remaining voters at the cutoff time were not allowed to vote.
Iranians living temporarily in other countries are allowed to vote, as well, so the voting process does not start until a certain time to allow for time-zone differences. Again, this year’s election was different.
As Jamshidy’s friend Golsa waited in line after driving from Fayetteville to Tulsa to vote, she received a call from another Iranian friend: The election results were being tallied and her vote would not be counted.