• 28 August 2008
  • Posted By Sara Shokravi
  • Uncategorized

This Isn’t Vegas, It’s Your Life

This isn’t Las Vegas; what happens in the rest of the world doesn’t stay there.  In fact, it very much affects us here in the United States.  It makes us more secure and prosperous, and that’s what makes America great.

It’s why we, as Iranian-Americans, have chosen to come here to the US.  In America we have striven to build our own expatriate version of the Persian Empire with prominent doctors, lawyers, engineers, artists, intellectuals, aspiring politicians and visionaries.  We have chosen to raise our future generations here, who will no doubt stay in the United States permanently.  It’s where some have come to escape uncertainty, choosing to live out their remaining years in a quiet corner of this country in the perfect house with a white picket fence, 2.5 kids, a garden, and a dog.  It’s where others have come to scream and shout.  But in the end it has been our choice; and so it must be our choice to participate and have a say because no one is going to hold our hands and ask us what we need and want from America.

Sometimes what we need from America to make our dreams come true isn’t obvious.  The answer is not always blatantly placed before us.  Take global poverty for example.  It may seem a bit random, but trust me, it makes sense!  At least it does to me and all the more so after hearing a second session at the Rocky Mountain Roundtable where panelists discussed the issue of global poverty.

Global poverty has become a serious issue within America in recent years as its citizens are waking up and realizing that addressing poverty is in the security and economic interests of the United States.  There seems to be a greater sense of moral priority placed on poverty alleviation and the urgent need for a plan of action in helping some of the world’s most destitute areas.  As one of the panelists, actor Ben Affleck put it, one must be invested in the actual issues to realize how it really does affect us in the US.  It was emphasized that charity is not what is wanted or needed, but the opportunity to do business and have investment and access to the market.

What does this have to do with Iranian Americans?  First, I must praise our community for being one of the most philanthropic groups of people and taking on some of these issues.  But as a community who has moved to this country for a better life, we, for one, understand the problem of lack of access and, therefore, hold most valuable our accomplishments in this country.  For a country whose profits come mostly from the outside world versus being homegrown, the US cannot continue to prosper and allow us to prosper as its citizens when the majority of the world is in poverty.

The issue also touches very closely to home for those of us who hope to see a better US-Iran relationship.  No, Iran is not poverty stricken, but it is not prospering either, and the same issues apply.  If the mass Iranian population is allowed market access, if companies invest in the country and the people, and sanctions are removed to allow growth and prosperity, just maybe then will the people of Iran have the resources and time to hold their government more accountable?

And those of us living here are no different; we must hold our government in the United States accountable to the issues that matter most to us.  We must do this, if not for the sake of hungry children all over the world, at least for the sake of our own personal empires that we have worked so hard to build and foster.

Posted By Sara Shokravi

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Sign the Petition


7,350 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.



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