Tehran's Rallying Cry: 'We Are the People of Iran'

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Olivier Laban Mattei / AFP / Getty

Iranian supporters of presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi march in Tehran on June 15, 2009

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At the rally Monday, Mousavi supporters referred to the President's speech derisively, chanting, "Ahmadi, just keep saying it's a game of football." Marching past a Revolutionary Guard station full of uniformed men in position, the demonstrators chanted, "We are no weeds and dirt. We are the people of Iran."

One demonstrator looked to the guy by his side and yelled, "That drove me crazy. When he said that yesterday, calling the protesters weeds and dirt." A 26-year-old mechanic from Hashemiye, in the south of Tehran, said he had left his garage to come to the protest.

As a helicopter hovered overhead, the chants grew louder and arms were raised in the air: "This 63% that they say — where is it?"

But while the demonstrations show broad discontent with perceived fraud, there are also many who believe Ahmadinejad actually won those votes. "Ahmadinejad is a man of the people. He dresses like them, talks like them, and isn't resented for having too much money," said Massoud, a 31-year-old supporter at the President's rally Sunday. "Those TV debates, in which he, for the first time, broke the taboo on old-guard revolutionaries stealing the people's money won him at least another 5 million votes."

Those charging election fraud base their claim on several main arguments. They say the results were released too quickly and were given out as a single number rather than broken down by province, as in previous elections. They also charge that some numbers simply don't make sense, such as Ahmadinejad's higher count in Mousavi's hometown of Tabriz and the other moderate challenger Mehdi Karroubi's less than 1% vote count, despite his relative popularity among ethnic Lors, Kurds and Sufis, as well as women's and students' rights activists.

People who believe in the veracity of the numbers say it is possible to get those election results fairly quickly because each polling booth could count its own votes in a matter of a few hours. As to the other charges, they chime in with the President, who said at a press conference yesterday that those who had lost were just upset because the elections did not turn out as expected.

But Mousavi supporters are incredulous. "They have stolen our vote, and now they're showing off with it," went one of the main chants at the rally Monday. After the demonstrations, loud cries of "Allahu akbar" could be heard from rooftops and windows until late into the night.

Now the Guardian Council has invited Mousavi as well as Karroubi to a meeting Tuesday to discuss their concerns. The Supreme Leader has expressed hope that the dispute can be resolved peacefully.

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