Mass European Protests Back Iranian Reformers
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
Eleanor Beardsley sends this report.
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ELEANOR BEARDSLEY: Unidentified Man: (French spoken)
BEARDSLEY: In downtown Paris on Sunday, Parisians joined Iranians to hold a minute of silence for those killed in weekend protests in Tehran. Then they began chanting assassins to the Iranian leadership.
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BEARDSLEY: French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been harshly critical of the Iranian regime's violence against the protestors.
NICOLAS SARKOZY: (Through translator) The situation in Iran is extremely worrying and the reaction by those in power is totally disproportionate. If those in power won the election hands down, why are they cracking down which such violence and with so many casualties?
BEARDSLEY: The British government is taking the situation seriously. It has begun evacuating all non-essential personnel from its embassy in Tehran. British Foreign Minister David Miliband rejected the idea that the protests in Iran were motivated by foreign countries and he said it was up to the Iranian people to choose their government.
DAVID MILIBAND: Iran is a wonderfully educated society, and people there want to have their voice heard, and it cannot be met with a baton or brutality.
BEARDSLEY: Perhaps the strongest statement yet against the suspected election fraud has come from German Chancellor Angela Merkel. While Merkel urged the Iranian government to refrain from using force against protestors, she went farther by calling for a vote recount.
ANGELA MERKEL: (Through translator) For confidence in Iran to grow, it must be possible that all the votes are completely recounted. This process has to be transparent so the results are justifiable to the public.
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BEARDSLEY: Wayne White is a fellow with the Middle East Institute and a former director of Middle East intelligence at the State Department. He says while the popular demonstrations are admirable, they won't change a thing on the ground in Iran.
WAYNE WHITE: However, they are going to have, I believe, an impact on the behavior of the government's concern toward Iran, and that is especially important when we're talking about the European group that has been involved in the nuclear negotiations with Iran.
BEARDSLEY: For NPR News, I'm Eleanor Beardsley in Paris.
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