Moussavi Supporters Protest Iran Elections in Downtown Miami

Think all the craziness in Iran is far away and meaningless to you? Think again.

For two hours yesterday, from around 6 to 8 p.m., the plaza near The Torch of Friendship was taken over by a crowd of about 200 people waving signs and chanting in Farsi and English. They're on Moussavi's side. Or at least the people's.

"We are here to support all the brave brothers and sisters in Iran and just wanted them to know we're behind them 100 percent," said a young man named Amir, who declined to give his last name. "Our body is here but our soul is with them."

The event was organized by Ghazal Yazdanparast, a 28-year-old Miami native whose parents left Iran in the 1970s. She had never protested against the Iranian government before, but like many of the young Iranian-Americans in attendance yesterday, Yazdanparast decided to take action after learning that seven protesters had been shot and killed in Iran on Monday. Just as the protests in Iran were driven by social media, so was yesterday's event - with the help of Facebook, email blasts, and phone calls to activists and Iranian businesses. Yazdanparast organized the protest in 24 hours.

"We are here to unify as the Iranian community in South Florida and to start a change and be a voice for our country," she told New Times. "We have many family and friends in Iran..we want to stand up for them."

Yazdanparast plans to build on the momentum of yesterday's event, and has formed an organization called The South Florida Iranian Solidarity Network. She can be reached at [email protected]

The protesters were loud and boisterous, and wore green, the signature color of Iran's opposition. They chanted slogans against Iran's president and the man they believe stole the election, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and chanted in support of his opponent, Mirhossein Mousavi. They also called for an outright change of Iran's model of government, repeating a slogan borrowed from U.S. politics : "We want a democracy, not a theocracy."

Several men and women held the green, white and red Iranian flag. A man who went by the name of Javid clutched one in both hands, and had a band of cloth with the same color pattern tied around his forehead, a la Rambo. Keyan Hasseli, 18, wore his flag on his back like a cape. He wished he could be in Tehran, taking the streets with the protesters, but since that wasn't possible, he would protest here in Miami, even if wasn't sure what the impact would be. "We want change, and we have to work for it in small steps, a little here, a little there," he said.

One of the demonstrators, Ann Horwich-Scholefield, posted photos on the web.

-- Jared Goyette