Wednesday, June 17, 2009
By Adelle Nazarian
As Iran has been gripped by protest, violence and allegations of vote fraud in the wake of a contentious national election, people around the world are watching — but perhaps none more closely than the young Iranians who helped push voter turnout to record levels.
Some of those young Iranians, in interviews with FOXNews.com, spoke openly about their hopes and fears in the wake of the President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s contested victory over reformist challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi.
“My fellow (Iranian) classmates in Turkey were crying when they found out the news,” said Amir Arman, who is a 33-year-old doctoral candidate studying social psychology in Turkey.
He said he wanted Mousavi to win badly.
“Mousavi is not necessarily the best candidate. But he is the least-worst of all four candidates,” Arman said, adding that one of his reasons for backing Mousavi was his fear that the world’s oil reserves are running out. “If Mousavi comes to the stage, he will bring nuclear power to the scene.”
Arman also is concerned about the lack of civil freedoms in Iran and poor management of the government.
Other Iranians gave different reasons for voting for Mousavi.
“If there was a 1 percent, just a 1 percent chance that I could keep Ahmadinejad’s vote from coming up, that’s the chance I took,” said a 27-year-old woman who asked to be indentified only by her first name, Samereh, for fear of retribution.
Samereh, who moved to Shomal from Tehran for work a few months ago, compared the Iranian government to the Taliban. She said people are fed up and willing to die for their country.
Mid-conversation, the Yahoo chat function on her computer started faltering. Minutes later, her connection was lost.
“The government is taking satellites down from peoples’ homes,” she said. “They’re everywhere.”
Masoud, a 27-year-old computer engineer who is fluent in both English and Farsi, also spoke on condition that his last name not be revealed.
He currently is unemployed, which is common among today’s young people in Iran, a sign of less-than-hopeful economic times. Masoud blames Ahmadinejad for this and said that while Ahmadinejad is in office Iran’s “freedom, economic situation and our relation with other countries are getting worse.”
Samereh and Masoud both expressed frustration with Ahmadinejad’s “superstitious” mentality and how he used warnings of foreign threats as a tool to boost himself to the presidency.
“A lot of people voted for him because … they were afraid of Ahmadinejad’s curse,” Samereh said. “They play with peoples’ senses.”
All three Iranians said they are tired of the Islamic republic’s current regime, in particular its mismanagement of the government and the economy.
But in an unprecedented move, Iran’s 12-member Guardian Council announced it will review ballots in a partial recount after what is believed to be the largest voter turnout in Iranian history.
Not all Iranians are optimistic that the outcome will be fair.
“In these times, you can’t trust anyone,” Samereh said.