I went off in search of Ahmadinejad voters today in Tehran. They are noteasy to find.
It’s perfect election weather in Iran, relatively cool today with a nicebreeze and clear skies, and at polling station after station, theturnout was huge. I began my day at the 7th Tir Technical School incentral Tehran. It is a relatively prosperous, middle class area, andscores of people were on line this morning, ID cards in hand, waitingpatiently to vote. A dozen election officials were milling around, andwhen they noticed that I was a reporter, out of nowhere appeared a traywith tea. An official checks my press credentials and says, “Welcome.”
The people in line were solemn, men and women, some with kids. I do astraw poll, quietly asking voters who they plan to cast their ballotsfor, and why, and it’s clear that at this station at least, it’s MirHossein Mousavi country. Tarandeh, 38, a teacher with an M.A. inEnglish, says, “I’m someone who has never ever voted before in theIslamic Republic, not once. I was the first on line today, at 8 am. Andthe gentleman looked at my voting book and asked me, ‘Where are yourother votes?’ I told him, today is my first.” Tarandeh’s father was anadmiral in the Iranian Navy, and he knows Mousavi from his days as primeminister in the 1980s. “I am sure he will not insult and disrespect thebeliefs of others around the world, for instance, by talking about theHolocaust.” She notes than Iran has a Jewish minority.
Further north, in the Fereshteh neighborhood of north Tehran, theturnout for Mousavi is overwhelming. Hundreds of people are waiting online to vote at a mosque and cultural center, men to the left and womento the right. As I walk down the aisle between them, a young womannotices that I am an American reporter. “Vote for Mousavi!” she says. Itell her that I can’t vote, but that I voted for Obama. A crowd isgathering. “Obama!” Three or four people applaud. Several of them say,”We like Mousavi!” Few speak English, but they are translating for eachother. I say, “Perhaps Mousavi and Obama will meet soon.” By now thereare 30 or 40 people listening to the conversation. All of them breakout into cheers and applause. It’s a startling, and stunning moment.Outside, voters are eager to talk. Hessam Omidi, 24, is a student who’sonly voted once before. “I am here for the future of my country,” hesays. “We have been isolated in the world, lost our connection with therest of the world.” Nasser Hakimi, 70, a doctor, says, “I am here forMousavi, because I don’t like Ahmadinejad. Actually I don’t care aboutMousavi, I just want Ahmadinejad out.” He says virtually everyone in theneighborhood is for Mousavi, except for a handful who won’t vote at all.”Mousavi can talk to Obama, and he can negotiate a compromise on Iran’snuclear program.” His wife, Elly, a yoga instructor, nods her head. “Weare not cattle or cows or sheep to follow orders. We live in an ancientcountry with a proud history.” She says that nearly all women in Iranare sick of the current situation, and lowering her voice, she adds, “IfAhmadinejad wins, I predict there will be another revolution.”