About two dozen Iranian Americans from across Atlanta united on Carpenter Drive in Sandy Springs Friday to protest the casting of ballots in the U.S. for the election of the new president of their former country.
Those gathered, holding signs and Iranian flags, said they didn’t understand why voting was allowed in the U.S. or so far from Washington, D.C., for the leader of their birthplace. The protestors also claim the candidates are dictators.
A handful of candidates were running to succeed President Hassan Rouhani, according to Al Jazeera. The frontrunner was Ebrahim Raisi, who protestors say is known for violence, but who later won the race. Among those gathered and periodically yelling at those they believed voting at the Comfort Inn Sandy Springs was a Jewish woman from Marietta, who asked not to be identified.
She told the AJT she left Iran in 1993 and came to American with HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) to be able to practice her Judaism. “We came because the Islamic government forced us not to have our religion.” She said she came to the protest Friday to learn “what kind of people” vote here.
“This is the worst regime ever, killing people every day and then voting for a dictator regime, I don’t know why the voting machine has to be in the United States. Keep it in your country,” she said, referring to Iran.
Kevin Kaveh Mehr, from Cumming, is not Jewish. But he said, “Iranian people support Israel.” The Iranian “regime,” on the other hand, helps fund missiles for Hamas and Hezbollah, according to Mehr, who added that he was a prisoner of war in Iran because of his political beliefs.
Iranian Americans also protested at the same spot before the country’s 2017 election.
The protestors Friday said they only saw a handful of would-be voters enter or leave the hotel.
A room off the lobby was set up for vote casting. A handful of Iranian American volunteers with the Interests Section of the Islamic Republic of Iran, based in Washington, D.C., monitored the voting. Volunteer Abas Meibodi said the protestors were hurling curses at those they believed were voting. Still, he said of the protest, “They are free to do whatever they want.”
Meibodi explained the meaning behind the ballot sign at the entrance to the voting area, indicated by tables topped by protective plastic dividers separating volunteers from voter, as has become the traditional setup during the pandemic. The signs state: election, great investment of the people of Iran and election year 1400, the equivalent of 2021, Meibodi translated. The ballots contain words such as security, progress, united and Democracy, he said.