DUBAI (AFP) — Iranians from one of the Islamic republic's largest expat communities defied a ban to protest outside their consulate in Dubai on Monday against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed election victory.
More than 200 men and women gathered outside the mission some 200 kilometres (120 miles) south across the Gulf from Iran, chanting slogans branding Ahmadinejad a "dictator" and accusing Tehran of rigging Friday's election.
"Where is my vote?" they shouted in unison as many told AFP that they had cast their ballots for runner-up Mir Hossein Mousavi.
Many protesters wore masks, while others wrapped their heads in Mousavi's campaign colour green.
"I don't feel that there was any respect for my vote... (the election was) absolutely rigged," said Ali, 32, who works as an architect in Dubai.
"Ahmadinejad is a stupid... uneducated dictator," he charged.
Like many other protesters, Ali withheld his family name and also hid his face with a mask as a cameraman on the consulate's roof recorded footage of the demonstration.
The mission says there are around 400,000 Iranians in the United Arab Emirates -- the second largest congregation of expatriate Iranians outside north America. Official UAE data put the figure at 110,000.
Nassim, 31, also an architect, wore stylish sunglasses which she said were enough to conceal her face, in order not to get into trouble when she goes back to Iran.
"We want to tell the world that we are not stupid. Please don't think we are similar to our government," said Nassim, wearing a short-sleeved shirt and letting her hair flow freely.
She said she had voted for Mousavi because he "doesn't want to fight with other countries."
"Why do we need this nuclear power? We want better relations with the world," she said of Iran's controversial nuclear programme which the West and Israel suspect is aimed at developing atomic weapons.
Tehran insists that its nuclear ambitions are purely peaceful.
Although Monday's demonstration in Dubai was not authorised in a country that does not permit public demonstrations, anti-riot police allowed the protesters to stand for more than two hours outside the consulate.
Some demonstrators said they hoped to get permission to come again and stage another protest.
"We are all in shock," said Nazanim, 20, facing the mission's gate and bearing a placard of a large exclamation mark.
"Anyone besides Ahmadinejad should have won... We just want anyone else," she told AFP, wearing a green T-shirt to show she backs the moderate Mousavi, who was the prime minister during Iran's eight-year war with Iraq in the 80s.
She said she had hoped that Mousavi's wife Zahra Rahnavard, who campaigned openly alongside her husband, would help push change in favour of Iranian women, as observers tipped her to become Iran's first-ever "first lady."
"I don't mind covering myself as long as they treat me as equal to men," said the university student.
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has told the top election supervisory body to examine Mousavi's complaints of vote-rigging, Iranian state television said on Monday.
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