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Iran's pro-democracy protesters to Obama: With us or against us? What a difference 30 years makes

November 4, 2009 |  9:25 am

Thirty years ago, Iranian militants stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, taking American diplomats hostage for 444 days, chilling relations between the two countries for decades and nailing the coffin in President Jimmy Carter's political career. The Iranian Revolution had begun.

Today, the fundamentalist government in Tehran held protests to commemorate the event, as usual burning the American flag and encouraging shouts of "Death to America."

This time, pro-democracy protesters -- many wearing the movement's signature green -- were heard to shout, "Death to dictators."

But the demonstrators, who risked beatings, imprisonment and even death to stage their rebellion, also had a message for the White House.

Witnesses said the protesters could be heard chanting: “Obama, Obama — either you’re with them or you’re with us.”

Ap5 The Obama administration has so far been reluctant to convey American support for the demonstrators, fearful it would undercut the protest movement and allow President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad (who some claim can be seen in the 1979 photo above as a young revolutionary) to brand the pro-democracy movement as the work of foreign agitators.

So the White House has so far kept its distance from the movement as the West attempts to negotiate with Iran over its nuclear facilities.

Will today's plea change minds in Washington? Do you think it should?

-- Johanna Neuman

Photos: Associated Press

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