• 11 February 2009
  • Posted By Michelle Moghtader
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy

Americans Come Face-to-Face with Iranians

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qv4rkUj6a8&eurl=http://www.picturesofyouiran.com/video.html]

Tom Loughlin, an American-born lawyer-turned photographer visited Iran three times to capture Iranian life for his installation. In his artist’s statement he describes how he was inspired while taking pictures in the streets of Isfahan.

“I spotted a young Persian man wearing a Dixie Chicks t-shirt. I introduced myself, and I inquired whether his t-shirt was intended to signify his dislike for the American President Bush. He smiled, and replied that the shirt wasn’t just about President Bush. He explained that shortly after the Dixie Chicks criticized Bush on stage, bootleg Dixie Chicks shirts appeared in stores all over Iran’s major cities. He told me that the shirt represented the admiration that he and his compatriots had for Americans’ freedom of speech.”

‘Pictures of You-Images from Iran’ is a multimedia installation featuring photographs and sound from Iran. It can be shown indoors or outdoors. The photographs are printed on translucent silk, and can be viewed from either side. From time to time, exhibit goers will find themselves face-to-face with another visitor on the other side of the portrait.

“I want all Americans to have a chance to come face-to-face with their Iranian counterparts, and I want to document the Americans’ responses to the encounter,” said Loughlin. The exhibition has been shown in Denver during the Democratic National Convention, but he plans to travel with it starting in Los Angeles. The artist also plans on showing it in outdoor venues that are not traditionally reserved for art, such as a NASCAR event, and select state fairs.

Loughlin hopes that Americans will confront their fear of “the other” and the photos of ordinary Iranians will encourage them to look more openly at other nations and cultures. And, ultimately, Loughlin hopes his exhibit will dissuade warmongering by American policymakers.

‘Pictures of you’ will be traveling throughout the United States in 2008-2009. To donate or bring the exhibit to your town click here or contact the artist by e-mail at info@manjushriproject.org

Posted By Michelle Moghtader

Leave a Reply




XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


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,

[signature]

Share this with your friends: