I love this picture of Ahmad Foroughi standing on Waterloo bridge. I met him a few weeks ago when I stopped to talk as I was curious to know what was motivating him to stand there, giving up his time on a windy Saturday afternoon. He was wearing a cool T-shirt and carrying a sign that said “We’re searching for Americans! Can you help? Are YOU American?”
I assumed that he himself was a US citizen – enthused by Obama’s message of change – trying to spread the zeal and get others to vote Democrat too on November 4th. I was off the mark – he is in fact Iranian by birth- and unhappy with the US’s current foreign policy around terrorism and extremism. He himself is unable to cast a vote in the US election, so gave up his Saturday afternoon to stand on Waterloo bridge trying to find any American who hadn’t registered in the hope that it’ll help Obama win tomorrow.
I asked him why he was so passionate in wanting Obama to win – he went on to discuss his family and roots in Iran and the impact of US foreign policy in previous years and what it might be the future. He then went on to tell me in a matter of fact way: “Its time for a real change and I believe Obama can do this.”
The world is not only watching this election – they want to be part of it in whatever way they are able to, and its not just happening online, there are people like Ahmad willing to give up more than a mouseclick moment to the campaign. Inspired by politics, inspired by a politician, belief in the possibility of real change… write it off as Obamamania if you like – but the passion and interest in participating has to be good for people’s rights and for generating the demand for real democratic process and real opportunities for people to influence power across the world.
I’d like to see this level of enthusiasm in the UK election next time around…