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Iranian Opposition Holds Rally in Los Angeles - 2003-07-09

Iranian communities around the world are commemorating the four-year anniversary of student protests in Iran and supporting recent protests against the country's theocratic government. Opponents of Iran's Islamic Republic overcame their differences at a joint rally in Los Angeles. In 1999, five days of protests in Iran were the largest expression of popular discontent against the Islamic regime in its 20 years of power. The protests were sparked by a violent attack July 9 of that year by hard-line vigilantes against students at a university dormitory.

Exile opposition groups, encouraged by renewed student protests last month, are sponsoring rallies this week in Rome, Paris, Brussels and other European cities. U.S. sites include New York, Washington, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Dallas and Houston.

Los Angeles is home of an Iranian community hundreds of thousands strong, and Morad Moallem of the Iran Democratic Front says a protest here Tuesday drew monarchists, republicans, and leftists.

"All types of people are here today. But we are working as Iranians today, to support Iranians in Iran," he said.

Mr. Moallem said the opposition groups differ on specifics, but share the same goal.

"We want democracy, human rights to be practiced, and actually to be a part of our future constitution. Freedom speaks for everything," he said.

Khosrow Beitollahi of the Constitutionalist Party of Iran says his country has a vital opposition, and a change of government should not come through the intervention of other nations.

"We can do our job ourselves. All they have (to do) is support us, that's all," he said.

Fred Saadat of the organization called National Unity of Iranians says the world should stop doing business with the Iranian regime, and boycott products from oil to pistachio nuts. He thinks this would cause the regime to crumble within months.

"We are asking that the government of the United States and government of European nations to support the democracy and freedom for our country, and not invasion, not give any suggestion what kind of government, who is good, who is bad," he said. " That is something that we have to decide."

The protester says, with moral support from the outside, Iran is ripe for a change.