• 16 August 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 0 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Iran Election 2009

A group of clerics issued a letter late Saturday night calling the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, a “dictator” and demanding his removal. The letter was published on various reformist websites, and follows a letter submitted to the Assembly of Experts by a group of former lawmakers last week calling the Supreme Leader’s qualifications into question. The lack of signatures may “dilute” the the clerics’ legitimacy, but the New York Times reports two Iranian experts have verified the letter’s authenticity.

The letters do not pose any real threat to Ayatollah Khamenei, who retains the loyalty of the security services and most of the political elite. The clerical establishment is heavily dependent on him, and scarcely any member would dare challenge him openly.

Still, the verbal attacks illustrate the erosion of a powerful taboo. Long unquestioned, Ayatollah Khamenei’s status as a neutral arbiter and Islamic figurehead have suffered in the weeks since he blessed the June 12 presidential election, which many Iranians believe was rigged. The harsh crackdown on street protests that followed has only deepened public anger with him. In recent days the phrase “death to Khamenei” has begun appearing in graffiti on Tehran walls, a phrase that would have been almost unimaginable not long ago.

In their 11-page letter, the clerics blamed Ayatollah Khamenei for the violence after the elections, in which dozens of people, and possibly many more, were killed.

They accused him of turning the Revolutionary Guards into “his own private guard, and the media into an instrument to defend and propagate him.”

The clerics wrote that fear of Ayatollah Khamenei made it impossible for them to sign their names: “there is such a dictatorship that we, as defenders of religion who are also close to public officials, have to practice Taqieh,” a reference to a Shiite practice of lying or concealment for expediency.

Initially, some Iran experts seemed skeptical about the letter’s origins, but a prominent Iranian cleric and a former lawmaker said on Sunday that they had spoken to some of the authors and had no doubt the letter was genuine.

The cleric who said he had spoken to the authors said they number several dozen, and are mostly midranking figures from Qum, Isfahan and Mashhad, where Iran’s major seminaries are located. The cleric — who spoke on condition of anonymity for the same reasons as the letter’s authors — said he had tried unsuccessfully to persuade them to sign the letter.

“The pressure on clerics in Qum is much worse than the pressure on activists because the establishment is afraid that if they say anything they can turn the more traditional sectors of society against the regime,” the cleric said.

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

 

7,349 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: