Carpenter Drive in Sandy Springs was the scene of Iranian-American demonstrations Friday, May 19, related to Iran’s presidential election, in which incumbent Hassan Rouhani won re-election against Ebrahim Raisi.
Shawn Bahrami, who moved to Atlanta in 1976 and is a 32-year member of the Iranian Patriots Association, said that although Iran’s international relations have improved under Rouhani, most Iranian-Americans mistrust those in power.
“The presidency in Iran entails a phony position, as they do not have any authority in relation to foreign affairs or internal and domestic issues,” Bahrami said. “Iran is actually ruled by a theocracy and a supreme leader who legislates what he wants accomplished.”
Iranians took to the streets in opposition to the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009 during the Green Revolution.
“The elections are often used as a form of propaganda by the regime to delude individuals that it is a democracy,” Bahrami said.
The protesters gathered on Carpenter Drive because Iranian-Americans in Atlanta were allowed to vote in the presidential election at the Comfort Inn Buckhead North. The votes were sent to Iran via the Pakistani Embassy in Washington.
One dual citizen, Vida, said she voted for Rouhani because it’s difficult to see her parents now while they live in Iran. “I would like international relations to improve between Iran and America and perhaps change the status of how Iranians are viewed around the world. At least with Rouhani, I can expect a change in economy and perhaps attain employment back home.”
Bahrami, however, said: “Most Iranians are sick and tired of the Islamic regime and would like a change. The Islamic regime is a state sponsor of terrorism across the region and have continued to run the country into the ground economically, socially and politically.”
Even after international sanctions were eased under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the county is struggling with an unemployment rate over 40 percent, Bahrami said, and its role in Syria has caused concern among its neighbors. “ISIS was not around until 2011. That’s when the Iranian regime went into Syria and helped Bashar al-Assad kill his own people. ISIS, for me at least, represents a reaction to Islamic Shia terrorism.”
Unlike Iran’s leadership, “Iranian-Americans do not have anything against Israel or the Israeli people. Some of the most talented Iranians are Jews,” Bahrami said. “Unfortunately, the Jewish community in Iran, in addition to the Baha’i and countless other minorities, has continuously been persecuted and had to flee en masse.”
Sandy Springs, Dunwoody and Alpharetta contain a large population of Iranian-Americans, both Jewish and non-Jewish, who relocated after the 1979 revolution.
In the past eight years, however, Iranian students who adamantly support the Islamic regime have arrived, Bahrami said. “These individuals are paid by the Iranian government to travel to America and have their own associations in the States. They are expanding and have access to millions of dollars, which allows them to participate in various lobbying efforts.”
Georgia Tech has many of those students, explaining an incident at the university last year, Bahrami said. “A group of students from the Iranian Student Association at Georgia Tech approached the dean and asked the Olympic pool to be gender-restricted. Although it was to no avail, this tells you a lot about the caliber of their beliefs.”
The Iranian-Americans featured below belong to the Iranian Patriots Association in Atlanta. The demonstrators have come to voice their opinion regarding the recent presidential elections in Iran. The protest took place off Carpenter Dr. as countless Iranian-Americans cast their votes at the Comfort Inn, Buckhead North.
Posted by Atlanta Jewish Times on Friday, 19 May 2017
Iranian-Americans living in Atlanta represent diverse viewpoints, Bahrami said. “Iranian people love peace and freedom and wish their fellow countrymen to enjoy the same rights. However, there has been a tremendous change under the Islamic regime. Iran used to be a civilized nation in the world and regarded as one of the richest, yet the only aspiration Iranians have today is for a free Iran.”