Iran cuts communication lines

June 14, 2009 4:53:48 PM PDT
The weekend's events overseas are being closely watched by Iranian Americans who live in the Bay Area. Protesters are planning to gather on Sunday night in Berkeley.

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The last time Iranian-American Hossein Borhani heard from his family in Iran was 2:29 a.m. on Tuesday. He and his wife are usually in constant contact through text messaging and Facebook, but as protests in Iran grew, the government shut down cell phone service and filtered social networking websites. That action left Iranian-Americans in the Bay Area wondering about the safety of their families and the fate of their homeland.

"That's one thing that the young are fighting for -- freedom of speech. That's the basic right it hurts for the young, it hurts for us," says Iranian-American Nasrin Borhani.

The Bay Area's Iranian community plans to protest for a second day. Saturday in San Francisco, a demonstration was held by many who feel the election was rigged. On Sunday, Iranian students are organizing another gathering in Berkeley.

"We try to send a message to Iranian people 'You are not alone. We support you. We support you as much we can,'" says Reza Mohajerinejad from the International Alliance of Iranian Students.

The heated political situation was the talk among customers at a Persian restaurant near the U.C. Berkeley campus. Some were so worried about the safety of their families, they didn't want their own faces shown on camera.

"I'm just concerned that this time because of the bad economy, people are really serious and they will do something. I don't think the youth will stop," says Iranian-American Miriam.

"People are standing up for what they believe in and they're free to do that now. Like people my age, they're expressing how they don't want to be closed off from the rest of the world and stuff like that and that's good," says Iranian-American Shahin Ghafari.

But with no contact, many here do remain closed off and for now, all they can do is continue to watch, wait, and hope.

"We don't know how this is going to turn out. It might turn out to be a very violent situation," says Borhani.

The protest is organized by the International Alliance of Iranian students. It takes place at the corners of Bancroft Way and Telegraph Avenue, near the Cal campus and starts at 6 p.m.

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