• 5 August 2009
  • Posted By Ali Delforoush
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Iranian backlash against Nokia

nokia billboards

Over the past few weeks Iranians have turned their backs on Nokia. There are widespread reports that many are boycotting the brand while rumors are swirling about a huge bonfire in Tehran, which allegedly consisted of Nokia phones and products.

There have also been reports of vandalism against Nokia posters and billboards. The picture above shows a vandalized Nokia billboard on a major highway in Shiraz. The billboard is covered in green paint.


Also there is this poster, which describes a “new Nokia product, produced with the cooperation of the Islamic Republic of Iran” that is “capable of identifying, torturing and killing Iranian youth.”

These images show Iranian anger against the wireless company after it was revealed to have provided the Iranian government with sensitive surveillance technology that aided in the post-election crackdown.

Posted By Ali Delforoush

    8 Responses to “Iranian backlash against Nokia”

  1. jake says:

    I feel as if Iran hates its ouwn people, and will not stop at anything to control the outcome . {ower is what the dictator wants even if he has to kill his own people to get this power.

  2. Dave says:

    I will never buy a nokia product or any product made by an umbrella company. Thank god apple iphone isnt made by them. F you NOKIA.

  3. Darin says:

    Nokia Siemens Networks, not Nokia, simply sold the infrastructure equipment to Iran. NSN didn’t do anything different with Iran, than they’ve done with any other buyer around the world. They certainly didn’t show them how to oppress their people using the equipment. They simply sold them the equipment. Come on people!

  4. Kyle Fullmer says:

    That’s like saying it’s ok to sell a kid a gun as long as you don’t teach them to pull the trigger. They are still providing the means.

  5. mark says:

    > Come on people!

    Quit excusing the responsibility of corporations, Darin.

    They want to do business, so it is understandable that they want to expand their markets, but we are not people without brains nor ethical values. We can definitely boycott companies that cooperate closely with regimes.

    I simply fail to see the point to support companies which help regimes like the Iranian one.

    If Nokia were so well-meaning they could acknowledge responsibility and fund projects that help people against authoritarian regimes, but at the given time they do not even try this at all.

  6. Mobster says:

    Darin… If you would be blogging in Tehran just like you are doing right now… and suddenly out of nothing having some security personnel in front of your door… because you wrote something critical regime… and in the process would be transferred to the Evin prison where they would break your spirit/body and GOD knows what else… where your destiny would not even be in the hands of god… Then I would like to hear from you weather Nokia and Siemens should or shouldn’t have sold these equipments. They simply can locate your place if you are blogging/twittering. Marvelous job isn’t it?

  7. Darin says:

    Nokia Seimens Networks publically denied any involvement and, It’s my understanding, that they have also stopped all business ties as well.

    To think that NSN some how decided to collaborate with Iran to oppress the Iranian population is quite ignorant. What next, boycott any auto manufactures that have sold vehicles in Iran since they would certainly be needed in mobilizing ground forces needed to control uprisings? What about other infrastructure necessities such as electricity, water, etc., all certainly needed in aiding the oppression.

    It just seems silly to think a company as large as NSN would be so stupid as to actually do what is being alleged. Do the Iranian people not deserve cellular communications? Of course, and that was surely NSN’s sole reason for working with Iranian cellular operators.

    The issue lies in the ruling power, and the system itself. This half-baked conspiracy theory just simply doesn’t hold water.

  8. Jerrod says:

    The fact is that NSN didn’t simply sell the Iranian government the infrastructure necessary to install a phone network in Iran. In addition, it sold specialized signal processing systems which are used for the sole purpose of identifying and locating particular handsets. Are you saying that they bear no culpability at all?

    On the one hand, I agree with your assertion that Nokia is not exactly a gun dealer in this situation: as you point out, they were in effect trying to provide Iranians with a service, and I have no doubt that one of the terms of their contract was that they provide this monitoring capability to the Iranian people. I’m sure execs at Nokia were following some type of “more harm than good” principle, assuming that the benefit to people of having wireless communications outweighed the potential harm of providing the government the capability to track and suppress dissenting citizens.

    On the other hand, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that Nokia must have known that the Iranian government, once provided this capability, would likely use it for purposes which Western nations see as violating basic human rights and freedoms. While they may not exactly be analogous to arms dealers, they are most certainly not free from all responsibility. These systems do serve legitimate purposes, and in the hands of a responsive and responsible government they’re entirely appropriate. Iran’s current government is neither of these things, and the execs at Nokia most certainly knew this when they sold them the equipment. They simply put the profit motive first in their considerations.

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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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