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In their honor
Join me in support of Iran's brave students!

July 3, 2003
The Iranian

Freedom. Human Rights. Equality. Meritocracy. Respect. Democracy. Tolerance. Civility.

On July Fourth, as we Iranians in the San Francisco Bay Area gather together for weekend barbeques to celebrate America's Independence Day, let us remember that the above ideas, the ideas upon which America was founded, are the exact wishes of those brave students and grownups alike who are struggling to free our country from the hands of the "unelected few" who have taken over power for the past quarter of a century.

As the red, white, and blue fireworks streak across the afternoon skies, let us say a prayer for those who have given their lives by way of bullets, stones, and nooses, to the regime that has made "Iranian" an ethnicity to be ashamed of on the world's stage.

As we wear our t-shirts under the heat of the July sun, let us not forget Ahmad Batebi, the boy who is rotting away in prison with a fifteen-year sentence, for having been photographed raising up the blood-stained t-shirt of his fallen comrade. He is my age. He should be studying to take his university finals right about now. He should be dressing in a shirt and tie to take his girlfriend out to dinner tonight.

He should wake up tomorrow morning to his mother's breakfast table, and to his father reading the morning paper. But he is in a tiny cell, his eyes the color of death. He is an innocent casualty in the people of Iran's fight for democracy. It would be nice to say that he is the exception, but sadly, beautiful young people like him, are the rule in Iran. To honor their sacrifice for the greater good, we who are free must rise up and tell their stories to the world.

In Iran, they risk their lives, their jobs, their families, in order to protest for freedom. In America, we sit idly by and wait for things to change, blaming everyone else but ourselves, when nothing happens. We are free to assemble peacefully in every corner of this land. We can call sick at work and buy a posterboard and a black pen. On it we can write "Iranians want Freedom" and "We support our Iranian Students".

No one will tell us to move. No one will hit us against the head with a baseball bat. People will respect us for exercising our God-given rights. People will think us brave for thinking of a cause greater than ourselves. Americans will see that Iranians are not so bad after all. That we support all the values that they cherish. Americans will support us, if we support ourselves.

So, I am waiting for someone to write me back and tell me they want to join me on July Ninth in organizing a Bay Area movement whose voice will hopefully reach farther than the expanse of the entire world. A movement whose voice will reach Iran. Who will reach Ahmad Batebi in his darkened cell and bring a brief smile to his face as he sees that we "Ghorbatis"aren't as conceited as LA-cable TV has made us out to be. We don't only care about BMWs and highlights. We are politically active, unrelenting, and proud of our heritage.

Please, join me on July Ninth, and e-mail me back if you have any ideas on the when and the where..!

THANK YOU and may we all meet one day under a blue sky and a free Iran!

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By Assal Badrkhani




By the way


Book of the day

Reading Lolita in Tehran
A Memoir in Books
By Azar Nafisi

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