x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Dubai Police stop Iranian petition

Police in Dubai prevent Iranian protesters from signing a petition against their president.

Iranians light candles to protest against the election of Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, at Jumeirah Beach Residence last night.
Iranians light candles to protest against the election of Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, at Jumeirah Beach Residence last night.

DUBAI // Iranian protesters who gathered in Dubai last night were prevented by police from signing a petition against their president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Officers told the 100-strong crowd they were forbidden from sending official petitions from UAE soil. The Iranians had gathered on the beach at Jumeirah Beach Residence to sign a green banner in protest at recent events in Iran.

They had planned to send it to Paris, where it would join others from around the world in being hung from the top of the Eiffel Tower, along with the slogan "Ahmadinejad is not our president". But protesters said police stopped them from putting their signatures on the cloth, telling them that while they had the right to have a gathering, they were not allowed to sign anything, as the UAE and Iran maintained diplomatic relations.

"The police came and asked me to stop the signing and the sending of the cloth outside of the UAE because there are still important relations between the UAE and Iran," said Farhad, a 44-year-old Iranian who attended with his family. "They said we could gather, but were not allowed to sign any official documents. They said they don't want anything that shows it came from within the UAE." The police refused to comment.

Protesters, unsure of what to do next, tried to come up with ideas as to how to get their signatures out of the country. Some suggested writing their signatures on paper, then sending them abroad in an e-mail for them to join those from another city. Others wanted to meet in an undisclosed public location and try to send a petition from there. "We don't have to put our location, or even our names, just our signatures," said one supporter. "We just have to get it out there."

The protesters are aiming to attract attention to events in Iran by creating the longest scroll made out of cloth to enter the Guinness World Records. They hope to show the world how many people were opposed to the Iranian president and the crackdown on demonstrations in Iran since his re-election last month. "This is so everyone in the world will know that this is the voice of the people of Iran and that this is not the president we elected," said Mahmoud, a protester.

"This movement is still alive and will continue to be until we win." Protests broke out across the world after the election results declared Mr Ahmadinejad the winner less than 12 hours after the polls closed. Many Iranians dispute the polls was a fraud and demanded a re-run. But Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, backed the result and said any demonstrations would be seen as an act against the government.

Protesters in Dubai have been gathering several times a week since the election to show their anger and frustration, and in memory of those who have died. "I want to sign this scroll because of the human rights situation in Iran," said Nasim, a 45-year-old woman from the country. "People over there protested peacefully and look what happened. "With this scroll, the Iranian government will know that they have not been successful and they cannot silence the people."