Local Iranians fear post-election riots


Vahid Salemi/Associated Press
A protester reportedly injured by gunfire from pro-government militia is helped by another protester near a rally supporting leading opposition presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi in Tehran, Iran, on Monday.

The violence has many worried for the safety of family, friends abroad.

Jacksonville resident and Iranian refugee Bita has been glued to cable news, satellite television and the Internet practically around the clock since Sunday - gripped by dramatic post-election developments in her homeland.

Reports of violent clashes and even deaths at mass protests have Bita "scared" for the safety of her parents in Tehran, where they are members of the persecuted Baha'i faith.

That anxiety kept her from disclosing her full name for this story. It's also kept her from calling her family back home.

"I try not to call them right now because their phone calls are monitored, and I don't want them put in jeopardy," said Bita, a 28-year-old University of North Florida graduate who came to the United States in 2001.

Fear is a key emotion for Iranians around the globe since Friday's presidential election, which many believe was rigged in favor of hardline incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Several Baha'is and Muslims contacted by the Times-Union declined to discuss the situation.

Their caution appeared to be well-founded as violence erupted Monday in Tehran.

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