Pro-Democracy Iranians to Obama: ‘You’re with Them or You’re with Us’

November 5th, 2009 3:02 AM

After President George W. Bush employed the words, "You’re either with us, or you’re with the terrorists," addressing a joint session of Congress in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks – as the President prepared for the impending war in Afghanistan – liberals eventually treated those words with consternation as if the blunt declaration reflected poorly on America. But pro-democracy activists in Iran seem to like a similar message, as a group of protesters in Iran called on President Barack Obama to support their cause, chanting, "Obama, Obama, either you’re with them or you’re with us!"

Uniquely among the broadcast network evening newscasts, NBC Nightly News correspondent Ali Arouzi – stationed in Tehran – showed a clip of anti-government demonstrators chanting their message to President Obama, as he translated their words into English. During a report that focused mainly on the government-orchestrated anti-America protest organized to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Iranian Hostage Crisis, Arouzi also passed on the activities of anti-government activists: "On a day when anti-American sentiment runs high, the opposition was looking for support from President Obama, chanting, "Obama, Obama, either you're with them or you’re with us."

The CBS Evening News did run a similar story about both sets of demonstrators, relaying that anti-government protesters faced violent retaliation from government forces, although only NBC picked up on the message to President Obama. ABC’s World News with Charles Gibson did not mention the anniversary of the hostage crisis, although they coincidentally ran another story that also reflects poorly on the Iranian government, informing viewers of a large weapons shipment intercepted by the Israeli military that was headed from Iran to the terrorist group Hezbollah.

Below is a complete transcript of the relevant story from the Wednesday, November 4, NBC News:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Overseas tonight, in Iran, fresh violence in the streets there today as security forces use tear gas and batons to break up anti-government protests on the 30th anniversary of the U.S. embassy takeover. We get more from NBC News Tehran bureau chief Ali Arouzi, the only journalist working for an American broadcaster who is currently in Iran.

ALI AROUZI: Despite severe warnings by the authorities, the opposition used today's ceremony to protest against the government. It didn't take long before the scene turned ugly. Thousands of Iranian security forces were assembled on the streets to crush opposition rallies and rein in political dissent. Shots were fired in the air. Tear gas was fired, and demonstrators were beaten with clubs, batons, and fists.

Authorities wanted to carefully stage manage the event, which was meant to commemorate the storming of the U.S. embassy in 1979. The press were constricted to an area outside the U.S. embassy, but this did not reflect what was going on elsewhere in the city as cries of "death to the dictator" echoed around Tehran. Thousands of pro-government supporters have shown up here at the site of the former U.S. embassy to celebrate 30 years of the seizure and to vent their hatred towards the United States and Israel.

But in an ironic twist, the opposition movement are also planning anti-government rallies across the city. Defeated presidential candidate Mehdi Karoubi joined the crowd, but, according to reports he fell to the ground after being overcome by tear gas. Witnesses say his supporters carried him to his car, which plainclothes militia attacked as it drove away. The opposition has so far refused to back down. On a day when anti-American sentiment runs high, the opposition was looking for support from President Obama-


AROUZI: -chanting, "Obama, Obama, either you're with them or you’re with us." Opposition has also vowed to convert all future holidays into opportunities for political protests. Ali Arouzi, NBC News, Tehran.