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Demonstrators in New York Protest Against Iranian President Ahmadinejad

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Carolyn Weaver
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Demonstrators from around the world have gathered in New York City this week to protest against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech to world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly - and to represent, they said, Iranians who are not free to speak out.

The protesters near the United Nations on September 24 represented several strands of opposition to Iran's government. Monarchists rallied alongside supporters of the Peoples Mojahedin, an exiled group, and members of Iran's oldest democratic opposition group, the National Front.

But perhaps the largest number were affiliated with no particular group. They were supporters of the recent protests in Iran against the June election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Many were from Canada, the United States and Europe and they wore green, the color of Iran's broad-based opposition to the declared outcome of that election.

These protesters say they want to give a voice to Iranians who desire democracy and free speech.

Mehrdad Loghmani traveled to New York from Canada.

"There are other political groups and we respect their right to freedom and we hope they have their own place in Iranian political future, but we defer that to a referendum and decision by Iranian people after the real democracy and freedom of press is possible. Here we try to be just a voice for Iran, a reflection of what's happening in Iran," he said.

Many said the election of President Ahmadinejad was fraudulent, and Iranians who speak out face brutal repression. Homa Nia lives in the United States.

"They are torturing my fellow Iranians in Iran, and all of the students, all of the brains of the universities that know what's going on in Iran, they try to destroy them or torture them or kill them. That's why we are here to show the world how much we are against," said Homa Nia, who lives in the United States.

The protesters listened to speeches and sang songs for hours near United Nations headquarters. Many covered their faces to protect family and friends back in Iran. Some demonstrators support sanctions against Tehran. But others argue that sanctions - or war - would harm the Iranian people.

They're expected to continue their protests in New York.

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