Rochester’s 200 Iranian Americans

Last night I had the pleasure of sitting down with about ten IAs at a restaurant in Rochester, MN.  The town of 99,000+, the third largest in Minnesota, is home of the renowned Mayo Clinic medical facility (treating the likes of George HW Bush, Henry Kissinger, Jalal Talibani, and King Hussein of Jordan), which employs about a third of the city’s working-age residents.  The Clinic, and its associated School of Medicine and various medical fellowship and residency programs are a big draw for Iranian American students and that is reflected in the Iranian American community that has been formed in Rochester.


So as you can imagine, we had a vibrant and eclectic conversation about our community’s political activism, healthcare laws, the Presidential election, and…  tax policy!! 

If ever there was evidence that the IA community is not a single-issue ethnic group, it was in evidence at Chester’s restaurant on the main strip of Broadway Avenue on Wednesday evening.  The conversation and dinner started with the usual ‘Iranian Standard Time’ delay of 45 minutes (this is one cultural habit I can’t wait for us to drop), but fell into a full swing rather quickly.


Few of the attendees were familiar with NIAC, though most had heard of the organization through a local member and avid supporter.  It goes to show that our members are the most important and valuable form of promotion for NIAC’s mission and continued growth.  It is an important element of our goal, and as a member, we rely on you to spread the word about NIAC and introduce more Iranian Americans to this organization.


So following a presentation of NIAC’s history, mission, and priorities, we talked about NIAC’s recent achievements in stopping H.Con.Res 362 from passing, immigration issues, and the importance of having the know-how and the ‘early warning system’ for our community to be pro-active about legislation such as this rather than being re-active like our community was about NSEERS in 2003.


The reaffirming part of this meeting for me was that most of those in attendance last night considered themselves Republican or Republican-leaning but remained opposed to war and were broadly supportive of diplomacy.  There was quite a bit of curiosity about the Republican Convention in St. Paul and many wished they could join Patrick and me inside the Xcel center.


But I must admit, of all the Iranian Americans I have met around the country over the past 18 months, this group had the most lively discussion and debate on tax-policy.  For a bunch of Doctors, Residents, and Fellows, they sure knew the intricacies of the tax code.


After dinner, we all went across the street to watch the Governor Sarah Palin give her acceptance speech, which was recieved with mixed results by the group.  One of whom may write a guest-post about it here.


To the 200 or so Iranian Americans in Rochester (their numbers), It was a pleasure meeting a few of you and I wish I could join you at one of bi-weekly pic-nics you all organize in your area. Our community is proud of your achievements.

Posted By Babak Talebi

    3 Responses to “Rochester’s 200 Iranian Americans”

  1. richardcorke says:

    Overall, does the Iran population in Rochester MN favor McCain/Palin or Obama/Biden?

  2. Babak Talebi says:

    Great question –

    From what I gathered, the IAs in Rochester are more Republican than the IA population as a whole. the best estimates are that the IA community used to be 60/40 or 70/30 Republican (of those who had party affiliations) in the 80s and 90s because of certain foreign policy perceptions and anti-Carter views in some of the community. However, in the past 5-6 years, specially after the Iraq war, the IA population seems to have shifted greatly much as the overall US population has. This has also been due to the demographic shift with more younger IAs choosing to be Democrats than Republicans.

    But there is no hard data for this, much of it is estimated.

    But yes, from the accounts of those in attendance, there are more Republicans than Democrats in that city.

  3. Ali Hooshmand says:

    Any Iranian hamvatan in Rochester, MN? I am moving to Rochester and I need some insight information. please send email.

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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.



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