Demonstration, Los Angeles style

July 8, 5:00-7:00 PM
Santa Monica Federal Building

I arrived for the July 9th anniversary demonstration shortly after 5. The number of people shocked me. There were about 10,000 people. Perhaps more. They seemed well-organized. Most held similar placards and posters with the same slogans >>> See

To my disappointment there were a lot of pictures of the former Shah's son, Reza Pahlavi. No offence, but the demonstration was supposed to be in support of Iranian university students, rather than any particular person or political group.

They had even hired a small plane pulling a banner that read: “Reza Pahlavi for a Free Iran”. Every time, it went by people would jump and wave their hands. Their enthusiasm made you think perhaps Reza Pahlavi himself was in the plane!

Police had closed Wilshire Blvd. from the 405 Freeway entrance up to the end of Westwood, near the UCLA campus. That was no easy job. It was the most crowded time of the day and that area is a busy location. People marched from the Federal Building to the middle of Westwood and back.

Some of the slogans:

— “United Nations, pay more attention!”
— “What do we want? Freedom! When do we want it? Now!”
— “Down with Islamic Republic of Iran!”
— “Daneshjoo, Daneshjoo, hemaayatat mikonim!” (Students we support you!)
— “Daneshjoo, Daneshjoo, raahat edaame daard!” (Students we will continue your path!)

Most were dressed up. They wore stiletto-heal shoes and made sure their hair looked perfect. White Luis Vuitton bags and fake eyeglasses caught the eye every 5 minutes. After all, demonstrating is a social activity and what better place to meet cool Persian guys and girls?

Participants in the demonstration fell into two categories. One were the older generation who left Iran around the revolution. It was obvious that they have fond memories of the good old days and would long to visit their home and family, provided there is respect for human rights. The second group are the younger generation born and raised outside Iran who may not have even visited the country.

There weren't many people like me in the march; people who spent a good part of their life in Iran and then came to the US in recent years. The demonstration was near the UCLA campus, but there were only a small number of student participants. The presence of this significant group was missed, especially when you consider that the event was to support students in Iran.

The only reason I can think of for this absence is that certain Iranian-Americans in Los Angeles are turn-offs. We feel ridiculous seeing our compatriots spending hours dressing up for a political demonstration. In such a crowd, support for students in Iran becomes secondary to rallying cries for Reza Pahlavi.

There are cultural elements in such actions that I do not understand; I am not a sociologist. But I thought about what I've seen back in Iran and compared it to what I saw in the Los Angeles rally. Then I realized it was not all that shocking.

Consumption of cosmetics in Iran is significantly higher than other countries. Before I moved to the US, I thought maybe people are overdoing it with cosmetics because of oppression; or because women are deprived of the right to show their natural hair, and therefore they took refuge in cosmetics to regain part of that lost self-esteem. Now I think it might be a trend inherited from our ancestors. With so many live examples in this town, can you prove otherwise? >>> See

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