Flags at Local Iran Street Protest Spark Debate

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Photos by Christopher Victorio
The controversial flag flies in Irvine Wednesday.

Alexandra Zavis and Paloma Esquivel blog in the LA Times that the appearance of the pre-Islamic Revolution Iranian flag at U.S. rallies "is stirring tension between Iranian expatriates who come out to express solidarity with protests at home against the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad."

As Christopher Victorio's photos for the Weekly show, that flag was everywhere Wednesday afternoon just outside the District at Tustin Legacy shopping plaza at the intersection of Barranca Parkway and Jamboree Road. (See all of Victorio's shots on the ocweekly.com slideshow.)

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The flag lines the street.

The appearance of the same flag at demonstrations in Los Angeles has prompted younger protesters wearing green T-shirts and arm bands in support of presidential challenger Mir-Hossein Mousavi to move across the street, report the Times tag-teamers. Invitations to an LA candlelight vigil on Facebook and other sites warned, "No flags allowed--if anyone brings any flag they will be asked to leave."

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Young and old flew the symbol.

Like the country's current flag, the former one contains horizontal bands of green, white and red. But the emblem in the middle contains a lion, sun and sword, rather than the four crescents and sword introduced by the Islamic regime in 1980. The fear is that it harkens back to the Iranian monarchy under the Shah. Thus, pro-Ahmadinejad forces can use the flag to tarnish the motives of pro-democracy protesters within Iran by saying the outsiders are Shah royalists.

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Mob scene
As one Irvine protester said while pleading with local flag-wavers to put the flags away Wednesday, "We are here to support the people who are fighting for their freedom in Iran, not to support any regime."

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