North Texans head to New York to speak out against Iran’s new president

Posted Monday, Sep. 23, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Homeira Hesami wants the world to know that many of the people of Iran don’t consider Hassan Rouhani their true president.

That’s why she and other North Texans are heading to New York for a rally against Rouhani — who has promised to engage with the world and end confrontation — as he prepares to visit with world leaders at the annual high-profile gathering of the United Nations General Assembly.

“He’s a president selected by the Supreme Leader,” said Hesami, 47, president of the Iranian-American Community of North Texas. “It looks like Rouhani wants to fool the international community into thinking that he’s a moderate, that he can change anything in Iran.

“That’s not the case,” the Carrollton woman said. “The real people who make a difference are the people in Iran, and maybe more than 90 percent of them are unhappy with the government.”

Rouhani, 64, became Iran’s seventh president last month. This will be his first appearance before the UN, and he and President Obama are both scheduled to talk to the annual gathering of world leaders Tuesday.

Rouhani’s speech is widely anticipated, described by some as the main event of the gathering. He even wrote an op-ed piece about his upcoming visit in the Washington Post.

“As I depart for New York for the opening of the U.N. General Assembly, I urge my counterparts to seize the opportunity presented by Iran’s recent election,” he wrote. “I urge them to make the most of the mandate for prudent engagement that my people have given me and to respond genuinely to my government’s efforts to engage in constructive dialogue.”

His visit comes shortly after Iran released some high-profile political prisoners and after Iran’s Supreme Leader indicated a willingness to talk about negotiating on nuclear issues, two moves critics say were strategically timed.

At 11 a.m. Tuesday, Hesami and thousands of other like-minded people from throughout the country will gather at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in New York to protest Rouhani.

They say his regime has deceived the international community and advanced a nuclear weapons program, overseen deadly attacks on Iranian dissidents in Iraq, colluded with Iraq to massacre dozens of unarmed refugees and executed 170 people in the short time since his election.

Speakers at the protest event are expected to include former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., former Chairman of the Republican National Committee Michael Steele and former U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli, D-N.J.

“We are going to support the opposition,” said Hesami, who once spent months in an Iranian jail accused of associating with those opposed to leaders in control. “[The government] has tried so many things to change, crush the opposition.”

Mahie Ghoraishi, of Fort Worth, can’t attend the protest but is sending family members in her stead.

“This year is important,” she said. “They are trying to put a happy face on him, saying he’s a moderate. ... He’s not a moderate. He’s the same thing. They are just trying to buy time.”

Anna Tinsley, 817-390-7610 Twitter: @annatinsley

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