Hundreds protest Ahmadinejad at United Nations
Hundreds of protesters poured into midtown yesterday to call for an end to the reign of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the controversial leader spoke at the United Nations General Assembly.
The scores of people - most of Iranian descent - were led by half a dozen politicians who gave speeches, including former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, both of whom called for regime changes in Iran.
"If we're for regime change in Egypt and Libya and Syria, what about Iran? We should be for regime change in Iran," Giuliani said to a fired up crowd, adding that he was "embarrassed for my city that this animal is speaking at the United Nations on Yom Kippur."
The demonstrators were centered in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza on 47th Street across from the U.N., flooding the square with Iranian flags and yellow vests with photos of people they said were massacred by Ahmadinejad's regime.
Behnam Janloo, 50, a native of Iran, said that the future of his country depends on getting Ahmadinejad out of power.
"Today is very important for us come and tell the world that Ahmadinejad does not represent the Iranian people," Behnam said. "He is a supporter of terrorism all over the Middle East and is a threat to the region and the world," he said.
Mahshid Mezooji, 25, of Hoboken, whose parents were born in Iran, said Ahmadinejad's regime has denied her the chance to connect with her heritage because her family is forbidden from returning to Iran.
"I feel lost, because I'm an American, but at the same time I have this other culture that I've never been able to experience, so I feel like I don't have an identity," she said.
"So I'm here because I want my heritage and culture represented in the right way and to support my dream of one day being able to experience my country."
Much of the speeches focused on the State Department's recent decision to remove from its list of terrorist groups the Mujahadeen-e-Khalq (MEK), an opposition, pro-Democracy group in Iran led by Maryam Rajavi, who gave a live speech from Iran yesterday. Politicians and protesters alike saw as a huge win for the people of Iran.
"It is a truly great thing that the is off the list, because that is the future," said Iran native Kavous Nasiri, 33, who has protested every one of Ahmadinejad's U.N. addresses.
The MEK "believes in equality and in the best for the people," Nasiri said, "and they want the country to have freedom for the first time in very long."