• 20 November 2008
  • Posted By Michelle Moghtader
  • Iranian American activism, Uncategorized

Iranian American addresses House Committee

A recent and prominent example of Iranian-American participation in American civic life took place on Thursday, November 13th when Houman Shadab testified on Thursday, November 13th before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing entitled, “Hedge Funds and the Financial Market.” Houman is a senior research fellow in the Regulatory Studies Program of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

At the hearing, Houman addressed the committee on issues pertaining to hedge funds and the financial crisis. This was the fifth such hearing since the financial crisis began and while the prior four have dealt with the reasons leading up to the crisis, the fifth addressed future risks to our economic stability.

Mr. Shadab addressed the committee’s concerns on the role hedge funds may have played in the financial meltdown on Wall Street. “Hedge funds did not cause the financial crisis and are in fact helping mitigate its damage and save taxpayers money,” he concluded.”Hedge funds have historically made markets more stable and helped their investors conserve wealth in times of economic stress.”

Regarding the controversial issue of hedge funds’ lack of regulation, he stated that they in fact are subject to the same laws as other funds in their category. “Although hedge funds are often described as ‘unregulated,’ a substantial body of federal and state law restricts the activities of the funds and their managers and requires certain mandatory disclosures.”

Houman also noted the positive side of hedge funds as corporate activists, “When hedge funds target a company, average CEO compensation declines by approximately $1 million dollars, and the chances of the CEO being replaced also increases.”

Finally Houman stated that, as far as the future role of hedge funds in the economy, “Hedge fund losses do not seem to threaten the economy.”

Houman Shadab, a NIAC member, is the first of many outstanding Iranian Americans that will be featured in NiacINsight. As Director of Community Outreach, I feel it is essential that we spotlight the achievements of Iranian-Americans to counter the negative stereotypes that plague us. NIAC is proud to have Iranian-Americans like Houman who demonstrate the vibrant activism that we strive for. Would you like to spotlight someone you know? Please tell me why at mmoghtader@niacouncil.org and we would be happy to post it.

Posted By Michelle Moghtader

    One Response to “Iranian American addresses House Committee”

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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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