A crowd of Iranian émigrés some 100-150 strong gathered in front of Leeds City Art Gallery today to protest against President Ahmedinejad. Forming a vociferous circle, they chanted angry slogans in Farsi, with a large Iranian tricolour flag (lacking the central device of the Islamic Republic) draped against a neighbouring wall as a partial backdrop; a striking banner bearing an image of Ahmedinejad rather ‘dashingly’ attired in the uniform of a Waffen SS Officer arrested the eye. Quite what they were chanting I cannot say, for I do not speak Farsi; but it evidently was not complimentary to the recently re-elected Iranian President.
It was refreshing to see that the women amongst the group were not hiding their feminine charms beneath folds of impenetrable cloth, but were bareheaded and stood as equals amongst their male compatriots. The apparent secular orientation of these people suggests that they would welcome a somewhat more radical change of regime in Iran than that which would be brought about if Moussavi were to come to power. Many amongst them must have spent long years in enforced exile, longing for the day when they can return to their homeland which for so many years has been subjected to the vicious rule of an Islamofascist regime. Their hopes may be running higher than for many a year, but will they be realised? It is too early to say.