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Iranians Living in Australia 'Stunned' About Election Result



Iranians living in Australia have expressed their fears for their country and their belief that the recent election was hijacked by supporters of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Iranian expatriates have expressed horror at the crackdown on opposition rallies in Tehran, where several people are thought to have been killed or injured by the police.

Over the years, hundreds of Iranians have sought asylum in Australia, escaping persecution back home.

Stolen victory

Those who were hoping that last week's presidential poll would unseat President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have been left stunned by his re-election. One exile said it was a "stolen victory".

Many Iranians in Australia think the vote was rigged and the democratic process hijacked by a hard-line government.

Amir Mesrinejad, an Iranian refugee who arrived in Australia almost a decade ago, is an Anglican Church minister who believes the election result is a tragedy for his homeland.

"Some of the members of our church were very concerned about the results," he said. "I was aware that Iranians participated largely in the elections to bring his presidency down, but the result was the opposite. This regime has been the most barbaric regime. They have done the most outrageous acts against the nationals of Iran."

Expressions of concern

The United States, France, Germany and other countries have expressed concern about the election and about how the anti-government protests are being handled in Iran.

Australia has pursued a cautious approach to the elections in Iran. Canberra has not openly cast doubt on the outcome.

The Australian foreign minister, Stephen Smith, says he hopes the official results are reliable. Smith also says he is more concerned about efforts to encourage Tehran to give up its controversial nuclear program.

Opposition calls for restraint

Australia's conservative opposition has called on Iran to show restraint in dealing with protesters.

In Iran, the powerful Guardian Council has now described the contentious election as "provisional" and the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has ordered an inquiry into allegations of electoral fraud.

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