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Protests Stir Mixed Emotions for Iranian-Americans

As demonstrators in Tehran continued to rally against the results of this month's disputed presidential election, Iranian-Americans reacted to the news. NewsHour correspondent Jeffrey Kaye reports.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    In Washington, administration officials voiced fresh concern about the violence against protestors. President Obama did not address the issue publicly today, but a White House spokesman said, "He has been moved by what we've seen on television."

    Our lead story coverage continues now with special correspondent Jeffrey Kaye reporting on how Iranian-Americans are reacting.

    JEFFREY KAYE, NewsHour correspondent: From the streets of the nation's capital to the home of the largest Iranian-American community in the U.S., what began as a series of daily demonstrations by Iranian expatriates against alleged election fraud has turned into protests against the regime in Iran.

    Yesterday, hundreds gathered outside the Federal Building in West Los Angeles in a noisy show aimed at changing Iran's present system of government.

    So you want a democracy?

  • PROTESTOR:

    Democracy, yes, of course. Every person has a right to that.

  • JEFFREY KAYE:

    This man, like many protestors, refused to give his last name, afraid that family members in Iran could be targeted in retaliation.

    Although estimates vary, community leaders say there are as many as 1 million Iranians living in the United States. Most left Iran around 1979 when Islamic revolutionaries toppled the U.S.-backed Shah. The majority of Iranian expatriates live here in California.

    Iranians are particularly concentrated in the Westwood section of L.A., which is sometimes referred to as Tehrangeles. Bookstores and other businesses catering to expatriate tastes serve a population that has maintained close ties to Iran.

    At the Attari Sandwich Shop, co-owner Ayla Sadoghiani says the situation in Iran is a constant worry for her customers.

    AYLA SADOGHIANI, shop owner: I think it's a consuming interest. I was actually personally very, very — not surprised, but I can't even put into words, like, how many people have responded.

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