Scores of demonstrators rallied at Rittenhouse Square yesterday to protest the disputed election results in Iran that led to a landslide victory for incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The demonstrators, many Iranian-born graduate students, wore the symbolic green to show support for opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi and chanted slogans such as: "Where's my vote?" and "Stop the killings!"
Some wore handkerchiefs and surgical masks on their faces for fear that they or their families may suffer persecution from Iran's government.
"We don't want to get identified because if we go back, we don't want to get captured," said a 25-year-old woman who gave only her first name, Arezou.
A doctoral student in Maryland, Arezou said her 18-year-old brother was beaten by police in Tehran for simply wearing a green wristband.
The rally began about 5 p.m. with only a handful of people, but grew steadily. Two hours later, about 150 protesters were there, chanting "No more killings" and similar messages.
"We don't believe the official results are correct," said Alireza Salehi, 27, a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania. "We see inconsistencies that make us really suspicious of the vote."
Salehi, who helped organize the demonstrations through Facebook, praised President Obama for "not meddling" in the election process. Meddling, he said, "would make the situation harder for the people in the underground in Iran" who would be accused of being tools of foreign interventionists.
"I think it's pretty powerful when the state tries to stop people from expressing themselves and the people do it anyway," said Sam Slaughter, 29, who was attending the rally with his girlfriend, Sayeh Hormozi, 29, who was born in Iran.
Pooya Molavi, 23, a graduate student at Penn, said many people in Iran were tired of Ahmadinejad because he had "suppressed most of the freedoms we had and started a kind of dictatorship."
Molavi also said that Ahmadinejad's speeches had been embarrassing for many Iranians.