Iranian expatriates cast their votes in presidential poll

A 100-metre stretch from Johnson Market to the building housing the Iranian Association, Bengaluru in Richmond Town was on Friday dotted with signboards in Persian. Outside a flat on the fourth floor, young Iranians stood in groups debating the political trends in back home and in India, occasionally stopping to greet a newcomer.

They had gathered to cast their vote in the Iranian presidential election. Prominent candidates include the incumbent Hassan Rouhani, Ebrahim Raisi and Mostafa Mir Salim.

Clad in a pair of jeans, a traditional scarf wrapped around her head, pharmacist Kiana Karami believes that voting is her duty. “Today, we did our duty towards the betterment of our country even though we don’t live there,” said Kiana, who is in her 20s and lives in Bengaluru with her husband.

Her husband Ali Ghobadi said, “Unless we participate in this democratic process, we will have no right to criticise and critique the elected president. A sense of guilt haunts me if I don’t vote.”

As people walked out of the hall after casting their vote, others cheered and slapped their backs while some took selfies.

“There is close fight between President Hassan Rouhani and Ebrahim Raisi. We have become a part of history as this election is very crucial for our country’s future. We are still experimenting with democracy in our country,” said Asra Ghoreishi, a pharmacist.

Majid Javedan, representative of the Consulate General of the Islamic Republic of Iran based in Hyderabad, was in Bengaluru to supervise the process, which was carried out with assistance from the Iranian Association.

Majid said that five polling stations had been set up in south India — two in Hyderabad and one each in Bengaluru, Mysuru and Chennai. “Iranians in 103 countries across the world will cast their votes. Counting begins as soon the voting ends,” he said.

Bengaluru is home to around 2,500 Iranians while approximately 300 Iranians call Mysuru their home.

For the past three weeks, the Iranian Association had been making arrangements for expats to gather at its office to watch the presidential debates and discuss the political situation. “We wanted to recreate a home-like atmosphere in Bengaluru before the polls,” said Davoud Jafari, head of the Iranian Association in Bengaluru.