Reporters on the Job

A Message for Mr. Bush: When American reporters travel abroad, they get used to the reaction from people when their country of origin is learned. If it's a country where the US foreign policy is controversial, locals will sometimes address correspondents as if they were members of the president's cabinet. "Tell Mr. Bush..." begins the tirade.

Staff writer Scott Peterson is used to the reaction, particularly in Iran, where the US is still called the "Great Satan."

But he was surprised late Friday night in Tehran, when he went to visit polling stations after several extensions of the voting period to accommodate more voters (page 1). Scores of people, mostly women, lined up to vote at the Hosseiniyeh Mosque, in a middle-class neighborhood. After taking photographs and talking to people inside, Scott went outside and was asked the standard "where are you from" question. A small crowd gathered around him. People wanted to ask questions, and send a message to the White House.

"Many were angry because President Bush had dismissed the vote as illegitimate before a ballot had been cast. Most voters and election officials in Iran take the process seriously," says Scott.

"You can see for yourself the crowd here," one man told him. He went on to describe the benefits of seven candidates in Iran's election, compared to only two in the US. "The Americans want to stop people voting. Why do they want to do that?" he demanded of Scott.

"Tell your Mr. Bush not to intervene," scolded another woman, as she joined the voting line with her husband.

The crowd grew so large that traffic on the street slowed. The police moved everyone back onto the sidewalk. Finally, Scott thanked them and crossed the street to get a cab, hoping the maneuver would prevent someone pursuing with one last missive for The President.

David Clark Scott
World editor

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