Iran, a country in the Middle East, is located just
between Iraq and Pakistan.
Mountainous area with 69 million Muslims. And yet, independent of what the rest
of the world may think of them, they are ready to surprise us. Last summer
(2004), during one month, 9 Iranian students decided to conduct a survey- a
survey whose results they could never publish in their own country. "If there
would be Presidential Election in IRAN right now, who would you vote for –
Khatami, Khamanehi, Rafsanjani or George W. Bush? "

Mr. Mohammed Khatami is the current President of Iran. Mr. Ali Khamanehi is the
supreme leader of the current regime, the actual leader of the country. Mr.
Hashemi-Rafsanjani is the former president, who served two terms in years
1989-1997. Man who considers himself the most able politician in the lines of
Islamic Republic and who ranks among the most influential politicians in
All these three are strong opponents of the US-led Western policies. And George
W. Bush? I think you know the answer better than I do. He's probably the most
hated and at the same time the most loved president in the world.

The survey took place between July 10 - Aug 8 this year. The questioning was
conducted by 9 students in ages 24-34. I managed to talk to two of them. And
they have just unfolded the results of the survey to me. They interviewed 1000
people from 8 major cities of Iran:
Shiraz, Esfahan, Mashhad, Tabriz,
Ahwaz, Kerman, Rasht
and the capital Tehran.
The policy for the questionnaire was that 50% of the respondents had to be male
and 50% female, all in ages 20-50. People were selected randomly from streets
during regular business days – in taxis, schools, shopping centers and such.
They did not approach people who looked like they might be working for the Army
or the Police. They also didn't ask people they knew personally, such as family
members, relatives.

People who conduct such surveys in Iran are usually considered hostile
towards the regime, and finish in jail. So everything needs to be done with
caution, if at all, that is. This means that they couldn't do the survey in a
regular way by handing out the questionnaires for filling. Instead, they
started chatting with the person, letting him or her know that they were not
government agents of any sort and they were doing a simple survey.

Once both sides were comfortable, they asked - "Who would you vote to become
the next president of Iran?
Khatami, Khamanehi, Rafsanjani or G.W. Bush?" If the person said that he or she
didn't like ANY of them, the vote would not be recorded and the interviewer
would move on to the next randomly chosen person.

None of the respondents had to reveal their names. Ahura Arya (name changed),
one of the organizers of this survey, said that the only information they wrote
down about each respondent was their vote, age and marital status. Nothing

Who won? Bush, big time. He got 95% of the votes leaving all the other
candidates far behind. Why was Bush selected to be one of the candidates, you
may ask. I wondered about exactly the same thing. However, they wanted to know
how popular the current leaders of Iran are. And how much the people
like or dislike George W. Bush, president of the country that the current
leaders of Iran
hate the most.

Results of the survey




















I was also curious to know why the students of Iran conducted this survey. Don't
they know that they and the ones who answered their questions could be arrested
for a lot less? They do know it, they know it well. And their names remain
undisclosed. They are people who believe in democracy. Still they claim to have
conducted this survey without any personal opinion about the topic. "We just
did this for the good of our country." they say. "This showed us how Bush is
popular among our people. Our people lived under a terrorist's regime, that's
why they don't like their terrorist leaders. "

Is it all true or just fruits of imagination of a creative mind, I really don't
know. However, I personally do believe what the two Muslims told me. Call me a
fool, or better yet, don't. Two of the people involved with this survey are
currently in jail. Fortunately not because of the survey, but rather for the
pro-democracy demonstration in the streets of Tehran on 25th September 2004.

"The regime is so sensitive to these type of activities, the reason is that
they don't like to be known as unpopular regime, but they are and very soon you
will hear some news coming out of Iran. People of Iran are the
only true friends of Americans in the war against terror. People of Europe may
not know what President Bush is saying, but people of Iran and Iraq
and Afghanistan
understand him as they live under the regime of dictators and mullahs. "

Editor's note: This article was originally written in October 2004, so the
two Iranians who were in jail at the time of writing the article, might have
been released.