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Local Iranian-Americans: Iran election a facade

Though newly re-elected President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has proclaimed that his victory in the Iranian elections is legitimate, local Iranian-Americans said Sunday the contest was nothing but a façade. "Since 1979, we have not had a free election," said Nader Kay, an Iranian-American from Queens. "The elections have been a show designed to fool the international community. The supreme leader picks the one," referring to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who, along with other clerics, selected the presidential candidates. Mahmoud Vakili, 56, an Iranian-American businessman from Roslyn Heights whose family in Iran boycotted the elections, said that many of the street protests in Tehran are not in support of either candidate. " are just saying 'we don't want the system.' " Nasser Haddad, 49, an Islamic-American from Queens who moved to the United States from Tehran in 1979, said while Ahmadinejad's rival, Mir Hossein Mousavi, was dubbed a reformist, he was not widely popular among local Iranian-Americans. "The Iranian government is going to stick with its nuclear program and continue to support terrorist groups," Kay said. "Even if [Mousavi] would have become president, nothing would change." But some saw a glimmer of hope in Mousavi and thought he had the potential to better the lives of Iranians. He "seems to have a lot of qualities lacking in the current regime," said Jacqueline Harounian, 39, an Iranian-American attorney from Great Neck. "He's an artist and intellect, so maybe he'd have a different approach with the people and how they should be led." "I strongly believe that if the U.S. and Europe don't support the Iran government, this regime is easy to tumble," said Kay. "We have to ask [the U.S.] government to stop appeasement and think of the Iranian people."

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