NEW YORK, Sept. 23 — Turaj Zaim woke up Wednesday in a Days Inn in Queens and took a cab to the United Nations, determined to meet Iran’s leader. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was scheduled to address the General Assembly in the afternoon, and Zaim, a lanky, blue-eyed hip-hop artist, wanted to talk to him face to face.
“I want to ask him why they held my father for 90 days,” said the 33-year-old, who had flown in the night before from San Francisco. His father, a democracy activist in Iran, was arrested in June as Iranians took to the streets to protest a disputed presidential election.
The streets of Midtown Manhattan were filled with other Iranians who had traveled to New York to protest Ahmadinejad’s presence. Some had demonstrated there against the shah three decades ago. Some said they, too, hoped to get the president’s attention. They staged a sound-and-light show Tuesday night in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, projecting images of Iranian unrest on the white T-shirts of volunteers and declaring, “Ahmadinejad is not my president.” They sang songs Wednesday outside Iran’s U.N. mission and marched with green banners — the Iranian opposition’s signature color — as close as they could get to where he would be speaking.
Along the way, there were whispers. Did you hear he’s been kicked out of two hotels? Do you know where he’s staying?
When the Iranian president comes to the United Nations each year, he often meets with h…