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Still felt good
Forty people chanting across CNN Center in downtown Atlanta were not going to change a thing in Iran, but I still felt good
>>> Photos


March 10, 2006

I was forwarded a flyer a few weeks ago about a march in Atlanta for Iranian women on International Women's Day. Wednesday being International Women's Day, I headed downtown with mediocre hopes; I did not want to disappoint myself by imagining a massive crowd when I knew realistically only a few would show up.

Despite this, I was still extremely dissatisfied with the turnout - there were perhaps forty people in attendance, the majority of them being older Iranians. I was glad to see so many turn out from that generation but was very disheartened by my own. I was amazed that there were no more than five people within my age range present (between 20 and 30 or so); the young people are the ones who supposedly forge these movements, the young ones are the idealistic ones, the revolutionaries, we are supposed to be passionate about these things, yet nearly everyone present was much older >>> Photos

Once my friend and I arrived we shuffled through the small crowd and were pointed in the direction of a stack of hand made signs; we were each given one and took our stance on the sidewalk with our posters held out to face the street, mine was "Free Political Prisoners in Iran." It was around this time I began to wonder where we'd be marching, and a few minutes later realized the word "march" was used quite inappropriately and instead it seemed we were just protesting.

I didn't mind, standing shoulder to shoulder with Iranians yelling out "WOMEN'S RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS!" and "DEMOCRACY FOR IRAN!" made me feel... good. I understand that what I was doing was accomplishing absolutely nothing, that a group of forty people standing across from the CNN Center in downtown Atlanta chanting slogans was not going to change a thing in Iran, but I still felt good.

Perhaps simply being reminded that other Iranians do care and do make an effort to attend such events made me feel less alone, despite sharp reminders as I looked around that it was only a very small number of Iranians that felt compelled to show up.

Over the two hour period we stood yelling slogans and waving signs, a few cars honked in agreement, many people gawked from across the street and inside the CNN center, I caught a group of men snickering and muttering inaudible comments and twice, from what my friend and I witnessed at least, we were flicked off by passing cars.

At one point a lady turned to my friend and me, pointed at a man carrying video and photo cameras and said if we did not want to be taped or photographed that we should hold our signs in front of our faces. I was puzzled at first, feeling defiant I saw no need to hide my face, until my friend gently reminded me that he was perhaps taping video for one of the Iranian satellite channels.

Suddenly I saw my face showing up on one of these channels with a report of the march being transmitted to the satellites in Iran, I imagined a government official sitting in an oversized leather chair in Iran, watching and saving images of all our faces and I envisioned my entering Iran this summer, waiting anxiously at passport inspections and having the officer look up at me and deny my passport, my being on some "blacklist."

It's an irrational fear, but for someone who has had difficulty her entire life attempting to enter Iran, there is no point in taking chances. I disgracefully hid my face behind my sign each time he recorded video or snapped photographs and felt embarrassed watching the older Iranian women around me purposely lowering their signs so that they were in full view of the camera lens.

Once we wrapped up we huddled in a crude circle, sang a song about women followed by "Ey, Iran" and left. No closing words, no grand finale, no speaker. It all seemed rather uneventful in retrospect. I'd have enjoyed a few speakers to get everyone riled up, perhaps an actual march and a little more organization.

All of these things are trivial though, the real frustration was the dismal turnout from the Iranian community. Though for a moment or two I was glad to feel so connected to other Iranians over this issue, the overall sense of shame that more people did not attend, especially my own peers, was persistent. I suppose one can always hope for next year >>> See

As a university student Tahereh wastes away her the bulk of her life studying. In her spare time she drinks toxic amounts of tea while dreaming of a united Iran where she can raise her future children. She keeps a blog

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