• 21 March 2008
  • Posted By Emily Blout
  • 13 Comments
  • Legislative Agenda, US-Iran War

The Mujahedeen is lobbying hard on Capitol Hill

To those who know the Mujahedin-e Khalq, its presence on Capitol Hill is disturbing. After all, the very men and women prowling the halls of Congress are named on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations. It recently hosted a conference– complete with a decadent spread of Persian food- for Congress and staff in banquet hall of a congressional office building.

Termed a Marxist cult by Ervand Abrahamian, the MeK and its political arm, the National Council for Resistance in Iran, operates in the US through various front groups such as Committee for Support of Referendum in Iran. Several members of Congress receive campaign contributions by the group’s members and many others have been targeted, including high ranking senators and representatives from California.

Why a group that is on the State Department’s terrorist list can be so active on Capitol Hill is something that baffles many- particularly in the middle of the “War on Terror.”

MeK’s lobbying efforts are nothing new. In 1994, over 100 members of the House signed a letter to the president advocating that MEK be removed from the terrorist list. Privately, several signatories have said they were embarrassed about the move and now look at Iranian-American group that walks in their office with suspicion.

Here in lies the problem. Front groups for the MeK are positing themselves as ambassadors of the Iranian-American community. They urge members of Congress to resist dialogue and push military confrontation, as this, MeK contends, is what Iranian-Americans want. And with no other Iranian-American in sight, many believe them.

Part of my job at NIAC is to dispel this myth and voice the concerns of the majority of the community as reflected by NIAC’s membership, which spans 44 states. But the real burden lies with you. At this time of increased tensions between the US and Iran, Iranian-Americas who favor diplomacy cannot afford to remain outside the political discourse. Contact your member of Congress, write an op-ed in your local newspaper, or ask NIAC how you can get involved.

Posted By Emily Blout

    13 Responses to “The Mujahedeen is lobbying hard on Capitol Hill”

  1. Mehdi says:

    Could NIAC organize something so that people like us could go to or at least a pre-written letter so that we can send to representatives, etc. (something like the ones we see on NIA’s site)?

  2. Michael Mahyar Hojjatie says:

    It appears that since MEK indeed took Iraq’s side during the Iran-Iraq War, they feel as though to have carte blanche to feed Congress any falsehoods they wish, as they did at that time. I wonder how many Congressional representatives from that era are still alive and serving?

  3. Ali Scotten says:

    Some big MEK supporters on the Hill include Tom Tancredo (R-CO), Ted Poe (R-TX), and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). If you, or anyone you know is from these states, please help inform the Iranian American community to put pressure on these representatives.

  4. farzadn says:

    this is indeed very disturbing and baffling. i can say with confidence that as much as the iranian people dislike the current government in iran, they would prefer the current government to the mek, who are seen not only as fanatics, but traitors for their activities during the iran-iraq war. they are a disgrace to iran, and it is an absolute shame that they march around pretending to be representatives of the iranian people. i would like to see the niac make this issue one of their top agendas, and start a major campaign to bring full knowledge of who exactly the mek are to all members of congress, and senators obama, clinton, and mccain, the candidates for president.

  5. Cyrus says:

    Thank you for your words Farzadn
    I totally agree with you on the MEK issue. They are against Iran, its principles, culture, people and history. MEK should not be considered as Iranians, they are traitors, whom for years have tried to sell our country and divide into pieces.

    It is NIAC responsibility to pubblish these facts and make our people aware. Let us learn from our mistakes in the history and educate our people. I am just a student 25 years old and lived all my life in Europe, but love my country to death and my heart will always beat for Iran.

    Dorood!

  6. azadeh says:

    I agree with Mehdi. It is good if NIAC can put forth a petition or something of a kind for us members to sign and send to the members of Congress. MEK represent no one but their very small group. Everyone knows that they hire people to attend thier demonstrations. I totally disagree with this group’s ideology.

  7. Babak Talebi says:

    Thank you all for your ideas on this issue. In fact, we are considering our options right now and trying to come up with an effective way to combat the MEK’s presence on the hill.

    In fact, this week, we are launching an action alert specific to California, so if you are a California member, be on the look out for the email and forward it to all your friends in Cali.

    The most effective means of combating their propaganda on the Hill, is to have other Iranian Americans set-up and attend In-district meetings with their Reps and Senators. And to share the Berkley poll results which show their ideas to be in the very distinct minority.

    It truly is amazing how ill-informed many of the congressional staffers are about the MEk and the fact that MEK members visit them on the Hill.

  8. Mehdi says:

    Another thing that could be done is to create a fact sheet about them and distribute them. These sheets would provide a description of them and their activities. This could provide accurate information about this group and their intentions and activities. These could also then be used by individuals to prepare them for when they meet with their representatives about this issue. Let’s make some noise.

  9. Naheed says:

    I would also like to encourage NIAC to take a more active role in exposing MEK to the politicians on Capitol Hill. MEK represents a tiny number of brainwashed expatriates of Iran who have been hurt too hard; and to me they seem to be more after avenging their numerous losses (the massacre of their members by the Islamic government; being listed as a terrorist group by the U.S. government and their isolation from the people of Iran due to their siding with Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war) rather than acting as a healthy political organization working for the freedom of Iranian people.
    Further, I wouldn’t be surprised if they unite with monarchs to form a stronger force against the Islamic government.

  10. Reza says:

    Nobody can stop MEK. They are Iranian people and they are going to win the war with this mullah’s regime in Iran. Doorod bar MEK

  11. azadeh says:

    No Naheed, MEK is like a cult. They never get involved with other groups, I don’t think so. But preparing a fact sheet about them is a great idea.

  12. Babak Talebi says:

    Mehdi, Azadeh, and Naheed – thank you all for your comments and suggestions – we have indeed discussed how to handle MEK here in the office. Although it is important to stand up to the falsehoods that MEK continues to spread on Capital Hill (see “reza”s comment above), we also dont want to become an organization that simply opposes the MEK at every turn.

    As the comment by ‘reza’ illustrates, the MEK is full of cultish followers who can not be reasoned with.

    The MOST effective way to challenge them is for Iranian Americans to meet with their members’ staff in their districts and stand up for what a majority of Iranian Americans want.

    It really is amazing though isn’t it. someone like “reza” can be out there supporting a terrorist group. could you imagine someone supporting Hamas or Al-Qaida on a blog somewhere? it really is amazing what these guys get away with.

  13. Mehdi says:

    Reza, would you mind telling us why you or the MEK is opposed to the idea of improvement and re-establishment of the US-Iran relations? How would that be a bad thing?

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Sign the Petition

 

7,349 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.

Sincerely,

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