CNN: Iran Election Fallout Continues

WHITFIELD: We are going to get back to our coverage in Iran in a moment, this breaking story out of Afghanistan. The "New York Times" reporting that one of its journalists, David Rohde, who was kidnapped by the Taliban about seven months ago and has been held against his will ever since, has somehow made a break for it by climbing a wall where the compound where he was being held and found his way to a Pakistani army scout, was able to get help and now we understand, according to the "New York Times" reporting that he is at an American base in Bagram, Afghanistan. David Rohde, I hope I'm pronouncing his name correctly, a journalist with the "New York Times" escaping captivity while in Afghanistan for seven months. We look forward to hearing more of this story and more of his escape. This reporting coming from the "New York Times". Meantime, I want to return now to our continuing coverage of Iran and that's taking place, there. Thousands of people have converged on the streets of Tehran in defiance of the Ayatollah Khomeini order yesterday that any protesters who do take to the streets are doing so by breaking the law. Our next guest is a woman who is keeping close tabs on the situation in Iran. She has friends, she has family, there. She lives here in the United States she's also an author of a book here. Melody Moezzi, and Iranian-American author of "War on Error: Real Stories of American Muslims." Good to see you, Melody.

MELODY MOEZZI, NPR: Great to see you.

WHITFIELD: OK, you have been having conversations with your friends and family, just as soon as a few moments ago when I saw you on the phone trying to have a clear conversation, but it's not easy, especially when it involves a landline. Explain to me what vocal gymnastics you have to do when you reach out to friends and family, there.

MOEZZI: Well, I've been calling friends and family to talk to them and hear what they have to say and it turns out that the second I say, well, what it's situation like? I learned this early on, and once I said, "what's the situation like?" immediately when I was on a landline it cut off. This happened to me twice in a row. Ultimately, I figured out how to say, well, you know, well, I know you support Ahmadinejad, I know that you're supporting the government, but just tell me what is going on with the opposition. And some of my family and friends do support Ahmadinejad.

WHITFIELD: Everyone, you and the party involved are all certain the government is listening to conversations or you feel like it's a strange coincidence?

MOEZZI: I don't know why it's getting disconnected. Yeah.

WHITFIELD: It's a strange coincidence to be cut off.


WHITFIELD: So, when you see the numbers of people who are taking to the streets, whether it be earlier in the week or even now in defiance of the ayatollah's order, do you suspect that anyone you know may have taken to the streets or anyone that you know who is expressing fear or concern for those who do take to the streets?

MOEZZI: Yeah. I mean, I know people are going and I know that some of my friends will be going and it makes me very nervous. And I'm scared, but more than that, I'm so proud. I am so proud to be Iranian and especially today. I think I'm more proud to be Iranian today than I've ever been.

WHITFIELD: Why? How are you calculating what is taking place there?

MOEZZI: I think it's the most historic thing that's happened in my lifetime. I was born the year of the revolution. I did not see that, but I have lived it. I saw what life was after the revolution. And I hear stories of what life was like before the revolution and it wasn't great, but it was very different. And the possibility of things changing from what I've known my entire life is amazing, and that my generation would lead that is astonishing to me. And I have so much pride for Iran today.

WHITFIELD: It's been about 10 years, am I correct, since you were last there?


WHITFIELD: Yet watching it long distance and having that connection, family, friends still there, is there a part of you that says, you want to be there now to witness this part of history no matter which side you may be on, just to see for yourself or experience it for yourself?

MOEZZI: In my heart that's where I want to be, but I have a head, too, and my head tells me I don't want to be there. I've written things and publically said things that are against the government. I write for the "Huffington Post" and have been writing lately. And the things that I have been writing...

WHITFIELD: Are you saying it would be difficult for you to be allowed to enter?

MOEZZI: I think I may be allowed to enter, because I do have Iranian citizenship, but in terms of what will happen after I enter the country, I'm not sure. That's why I think it's so important that the people who are outside Iran, Iranian-Americans in particular, we have the freedom to say what we want to say. They are stranding up and risking their lives, the least we can do is stand up and say, you know what, maybe this will mean I can't go back to Iran, but they may die. You know, maybe I won't be able to go back, but I fully believe thatI will go back to Iran. I just will go back to Iran when it is no longer a so-called Islamic republic, which is highly un-Islamic to begin with.

WHITFIELD: Well, what's very clear, there is no monolist thinking and the same can be said about your family, whether you have family members here or even in Iran, everyone feels differently about what's transpiring there. And so, I'm curious to know what kind of dinner table conversations, even long distance dinner table conversation are taking place. Are you all engaging in real passionate discussions about how you all see this differently or how you might be in agreement?

MELODY MOEZZI, AUTHOR: It's like the parents and the kids -- and I count as a kid in this situation -- the parents saying, be careful. We've seen what happened with our revolution. We thought it was going to go well. It didn't turn out like we thought it would. A lot of people who supported the revolution in 1979 did not expect it to turn out like it did; did not expect a theocratic state to come into Iran. Iran, if it's an Islamic state, Islam teaches in the Quran that there should be no compulsion in religion. So a lot of Iranians thought, OK, so they take that to heart when they created an Islamic republic. A true Islamic republic is a secular republic, a secular democracy. And I think that's what the people there are headed for. I think the kids are talking to their parents, and their parents are like, watch out. And they're like we've had enough; we're 30 years old, we've been living under this government for 30 years. Give as break.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: What really is interesting because you bring up the age 30, half the Iranian population under 30, or at least under the age of 25, and that is astounding because there is a real movement that we are seeing here, which seems to be led by that younger generation.

MOEZZI: Yeah, that's really exciting to me. The majority of the Iranian population is younger than the revolution itself. That's the situation. I've always seen it, like I said, I've been in the streets of Tehran with my mom. I remember once specifically we were about to cross the street, which is an effort in Tehran. We were about to cross the street and she started crying. I said what's wrong? She said I never thought this would happen. I never thought this would happen. So just so many people who initially supported that revolution, it just turned on them. That's what we are afraid of. Because we know what we do not want. We don't want a. We don't want to go back to that. We don't want American imperialism. We want to be independent. That is the great thing that the Ayatollah Khomeini brought to us was independence, and then - but we moved past that, you know? So we, at the same time we don't want the status quo. We don't know what we do want. We know what we don't want, but when it comes to figuring out what we do actually want, we don't know what to do. I was saying, I write for the Huffington Post. I had written something recently about Shirin Ebadi (ph), who is the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner. Inside of Iran she's an attorney, she used to be a judge. And what I wrote was, the title was "Shirin Ebadi (ph) For President." And it probably won't happen, but that's who I -she's a woman, a very strong woman, very powerful, internationally respected. And that is who I thought should be the president. And you would not believe how many e-mails I got back from that single article just saying -

WHITFIELD: In support of, or?

MOEZZI: In support of. "Are you starting an organization?" I don't know. But if Shia Abazi (ph) is listening we want you to run. I think a woman leading this, a woman at the head of this is what we need.

WHITFIELD: Melody Moezzi, thank you very much. Very outspoken.

MOEZZI: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Very interesting. And I would love to be on the phone as you and family members talk just to see how electric it gets.

MOEZZI: We'll arrange that sometime.

WHITFIELD: Good deal. All right, Melody, thank you so much.

MOEZZI: Thank you.