Saturday, May 28, 2005

D.C. Rally Caps Iran Liberty Walk
The 200-mile "Iran Freedom Walk," organized by the Iran Freedom Foundation, concludes today with a rally at noon in Lafayette Park across the street from the White House. READ MORE

The keynote speaker is Richard Perle, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense and a key architect of President Bush's Middle East policy. Also featured is former Ambassador Mike Palmer; Joe Grieboski, founder and president of the Institute on Religion and Public Policy; and "Atomic Iran" author Jerome Corsi, who is leading the walk.

The final three-mile stage of the journey, launched in Philadelphia two weeks ago, begins at 10 a.m. in front of Union Station in Washington.

Corsi spent much of Wednesday on his cellphone talking to government officials and radio talk show hosts. Midway through the morning, he informed his fellow marchers he had been in touch with both the White House and the vice president's office.

Corsi told the marchers President Bush offered his encouragement.

The president thanked them for their efforts to bring greater attention to the plight of the Iranian people, Corsi said, and agreed to press for better treatment of political prisoners held in Iran by the ruling mullahs.

The news brought some tears from the Iranian marchers.

"God bless America, and God bless George Bush," said Yousef Dinmaghani.

Another walker is Shahrokh Ferdosi, who worked in the Ministry of Culture and Art in Tehran and as a television host and columnist before the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Under the radical, cleric-led regime, Ferdosi was tortured and continues to have pain and problems with his toes and feet.

"I was lucky that I was able to escape Iran," he said. "First of all I sent my family to Canada to escape the mullahs. From 1979 I traveled almost around the world including Tokyo, Japan; Paris, France; Malaysia; Singapore; Italy; while traveling on a forged passport. I finally came to Canada in 1989."

Ferdosi now leads a small underground party in Canada called "New Iran For Us" and is a member of the opposition Islamic government in exile.

In that capacity, he works with seven television stations and four radio stations that focus on political issues inside Iran.

On the walk he's in almost constant contact with other Iranians in the U.S. and in Iran.

"We are friends with American people," he said. "We work with Americans for long time -- more than 75 years. We love American people and American country. Americans love Iranians and together we face the mullahs. And we continue like brother and sister until free Iran and coming back democracy to Iran."