• 30 July 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • Events in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Trust: The latest casualty in Iran

A contact in Iran called after attending Friday prayer when Rafsanjani spoke on July 17 . Although he was pleased with Rafsanjani’s comments, he described a Seinfeld-esque scene with larger implications.

He had survived the tear gas used to disperse not only Mousavi supporters like himself, but the devout who pray every Friday. Despite the hundreds of Basijis placed in the square to prevent crowds from gathering- the young, old, religious and political had united peacefully with a heightened sense of camaraderie.

However, all the comfort he felt with his fellow citizens disappeared when the crowd had dispersed and he realized he had lost his cell phone. He told me that while searching for his phone, a Basij approached him and asked what he was doing.

They didn’t believe me that I had lost my phone. So, they searched my pockets and found a green ribbon. ‘He’s one of them!’ they said. Then they took me to the annex. They questioned and threatened to imprison me, but one guard who was really nice, pulled me aside, slapped my face and told me to stop doing these things and leave.

In a final attempt to find his phone, he went to a nearby store and called it.

Someone picked up the phone, I couldn’t believe it! I asked him for my phone back. But then I realized the guy on was really suspicious of me when he asked, ‘How do I know you’re not a Basij?’

So I said, ‘Well, how do I know you’re not a Basij?’

We talked for 10 minutes and we worked out a plan. I went home and called him back in the evening. Then I hired a cab to go to a square, then the guy on the other line called the phone again, which was then with the cab driver and then dropped it off with him. Then the cab driver drove my phone back to my house. Although, it cost me a lot of money, the guy on the other line was really kind, he went through a lot of trouble to give me back my phone.

Since the election results were announced, people have opened their homes to protect protesters running from the Basij. Men and women from all social classes and ages reassure each other by chanting, “Don’t be afraid! Don’t be afraid! We are all together!” But at the same time because of the crack down and security forces dressed in civilian clothing, the government has succeeded in breaking down trust in certain circumstances.

This loss of trust is just another casualty in government’s crackdown on the opposition. While both men in this simple anecdote wanted to do the right thing, a feeling of paranoia and mistrust hindered the process.

But all is not lost- Iranians have long struggled and succeeded at finding creative solutions for the obstacles thrown in their way by the government. Iran boasts a successful film industry despite government censors and although Persian rap is illegal in Iran, it’s thriving underground. So while he lost his cell phone, an ingenious plan and one expensive cab ride later, this young voter prevailed.

Posted By NIAC

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


7,350 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.



Share this with your friends: