(WGN-AM)- Undeterred by a downpour, about 250 Iranian-Americans gathered in the Chicago Loop Tuesday evening to show their support for protesters that have flooded Iran streets opposing the results of last week's presidential election.
Wearing green headbands and armbands to indicate their support of opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, participants beneath the overhang of the Kluczynski Federal Building said they had watched the week's events unfold with a mixture of pride and concern for their families and friends in Iran.
"You see people standing up for what is right and just, and that makes me proud," said Elnaz Baumsnow, 29, who said her brother was among hundreds of thousands demonstrating in Tehran on Monday. "But I'm scared about the violence against protesters."
With signs that read "Where Is My Vote?" and "Election, Not Selection," protesters demanded a recount of last Friday's presidential vote, which officially resulted in a landslide victory for incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Iranians here and abroad expressed skepticism about the margin of victory and the speed with which the votes were counted, suspecting the government of rigging the result.
"It is so clear that they have manipulated our votes," said Farouzan Behnia, 45, of Evanston. "I think the people know their rights, and they don't want to give them up. They want their votes respected and counted."
Baumsnow said that she found it especially galling that the official vote count had Mousavi losing the vote even in his home city of Tabriz.
"It's like saying that McCain won Illinois in the last U.S. election," Baumsnow said. "It's very fishy."
But rally participants were not totally in agreement about how best to oppose Ahmadinejad's government. While the majority in attendance supported a peaceful and democratic overturn of power, a few protesters calling for revolution were shouted down by the crowd.
"We are trying to keep away the rhetoric of overthrow or violent revolution, because it will only give the government the pretext they need to use violence against protesters," said Narimon Safavi, a board member with the National Iranian American Council and a rally organizer. "We are very hopeful. We feel the time might be right for positive, peaceful change."
(The Chicago Tribune contributed to this story)
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