• 14 June 2009
  • Posted By Michelle Moghtader
  • Uncategorized

“Where is My Vote?” chant Iranian Americans in DC


About 300 Iranian Americans rallied today in DC. Chants ranged from “What do we want? Democracy! When do we want it? Now!” to “Students of Iran: we support you!”

About 30 attendees were from the Shah’s camp holding and waving flags with the “Shir-o-Khorshid” (the Lion and the Sun- the symbol of royalty). At first they tried to chant, “Death to the Islamic Revolution,” but they were quickly drowned out by “Neither Shah, nor Ahmadi! Moussavi! Moussavi!” chants from the majority of the demonstrators. And ironically enough, they started to chant “Democracy for Iran!” All the while, holding the quintessential symbol of royalty in their hands.

It was amazing to see so many Iranian Americans take the streets today. Unfortunately, despite the turmoil in Iran, it was disheartening to a few factions try to promote their agenda in a time when we should just try to support the Iranian people.

Posted By Michelle Moghtader

    3 Responses to ““Where is My Vote?” chant Iranian Americans in DC”

  1. Maryam says:

    The Shir O Khorshid Flag is the true Iranian Flag. It is a symbol of Iran not any government. Please correct this as it’s only relative to the monarchy when there is a crown over the lions head. Lets not separate from our true goal which is one Iran for all, which preserves freedom and human rights for its people through a democratic institution. Javid Iran!

  2. B.BarNavi says:

    Where and when was this exactly? I was in DC today, and I would have LOVED to show solidarity with the DC metro Persian community, among them some of my friends.

  3. Agam says:

    Thanks for your excellent reporting and insightful commentary at this time of crisis in your country. Very fine work!

    About the people trying to “promote their agenda(s)”, why not just embrace them into the democracy fold? Freedom-loving Iranians come from a broad spectrum, I think. But yes, agendas should come in beneath the main theme of freedom.

    Even those who love the earlier royal symbols, the old Iranian flag as Maryam says, can also love democracy.

    I live in Thailand, and this part of your report stood out for me:

    “And ironically enough, they started to chant “Democracy for Iran!” All the while, holding the quintessential symbol of royalty in their hands.”

    But why shouldn’t someone honestly wish for both? I can’t see the contradiction. The Thais have a hard-won democratic system, having fought back in the streets against real tyrants more than a few times. They love having a free-wheeling democracy, dozens of political parties, hundreds of newspapers… they won’t have it any other way. Any more.

    They also have the most beloved King in the world. The depth of affection for him can’t be described in a few words – it’s truly remarkable, and unique in the world (for some reason). He genuinely represents the heart of the Land, and the heart of the People (all religions, ethnic groups, no divisions).

    When some people long for Persian royalty, they’re enjoying the freedom to feel that way and express it, in DC. They’re part of your coalition, not (necessarily) self-contradictory. They might just be wishing for a democratic Iran that includes both freedom as well as some expression of royalty.

    Unless those folks really do want an absolute monarch to rule Iran… in which case you are right of course. I just wanted to show the other possibility, that there is another way to look at the issue of royalty.

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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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