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Volume 79, Number 8 | July 29 - August 4, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Villager photos by Lincoln Anderson

Cyrus and the lion: Banner day for Iran opposition 

Chanting “Stop the Torture! Stop the Killing!” and “Freedom! Now!” about 1,000 demonstrators demanding change in Iran marched to Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza by the U.N. on Saturday. Many wore green and carried green banners — the symbol of the Iranian opposition. But another contingent displayed some symbolism of other kinds. A woman who gave her name as Taraneh, left, held a likeness of Cyrus the Great, founder of the mighty Persian empire in the 6th century B.C.E. Asked why she was pro-Cyrus, she said, “He’s the king, number one — and he’s our symbol. And he’s anti-Islamic Republic.” Maryam Esmaeli, a doctor of audiology from Livingston, N.J., at right in photo at right, held Iran’s flag from 30 years ago, with its “shir va khorsheed” — lion and sun — which, after the Islamic revolution, were replaced by “Allah” in Arabic. “We want our lion back,” Esmaeli said. “I’m Persian — I don’t want Arabic words on my flag. ... We don’t want mullahs; I’m sick and tired of religion,” she added. Esmaeli said she was a convert to Zoroastrianism, which was also Cyrus’s religion. The demonstrators sporting green were younger, they said, and also were largely Muslim. “The people on the other side [of the plaza] just want the other candidate,” Esmaeli noted. “We don’t like the entire Islamic regime.” She said that when the candidate for president that the green-wearing youths back, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, was prime minister during the Islamic Republic, he personally was to blame for many “assassinations” of young students. “This has been going on for 30 years,” she said, noting the younger protesters don’t remember everything that happened. “But thanks God to Internet and cell phones, the world can see it. Thank goodness for new technology, you can see it.” 
Lincoln Anderson

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