Thousands of Iranian-American protesters gathered in New York City on Monday to announce their disapproval with the regime in Tehran, which continues to execute dissident voices at a record-pace.
The protesters came together in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza outside of the United Nations property to demand that the Islamic Republic’s President, Hassan Rouhani, step down immediately.
“We want to show that not only is the Iranian regime a threat to the international community, but also a threat to the people within Iran,” Ben Borhani, a college student, told the AP. The majority of the people that the regime executes are political prisoners, he added.
The rally was organized by the Organization of Iranian-American Communities. The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an Iranian dissident group that is largely made up of individuals from the controversial People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), also helped gather protesters for the event.
Bill Richardson, the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, spoke at the event. He told protesters that he is deeply concerned about the part of the Iran deal that gives the regime billions of dollars in unfrozen sanctions. Richardson warned that the money would likely end up in the hands of Bashar al-Assad’s regime and in the coffers of terrorist groups that Iran supports, such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Houthi insurgents in Yemen.
Maryam Rajavi, the President of the NCRI and an MEK leader, said that the Islamic Republic is “illegitimate.”
“Rouhani is part of a regime whose survival is ensured only through daily executions, torture of prisoners, suppression of women and plundering of social wealth, as well as terrorism and destruction in the region,” Rajavi said.
Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz, who also spoke at the rally, accused President Obama of “committing a crime” by agreeing to the Iran deal.
“What is that crime? That crime is providing material support to terrorism. And, what does this deal do? It provides tens of billions, perhaps hundreds of billions of dollars of material support for terrorism,” he said at the protest.
Rouhani spoke Monday at the UN General Assembly Debate. In his speech, the Iranian President blamed Saudi Arabia for the recent Hajj pilgrimage incident and blamed the U.S. and Israel for the spread of Middle East terrorism.