• 26 May 2010
  • Posted By Setareh Tabatabaie
  • Israel

And Yet Another Great Satan

Having made some important concessions on the proposed nuclear fuel swap with Brazil and Turkey, Iran now seems to have compensated by taking a harder line at home ahead of the June 12 anniversary of last year’s election.

Iran signed onto the Brazilian-Turkish deal, marking a significant concession from Iran’s previous position which had demanded the fuel swap take place in small batches, inside Iran’s borders, and simultaneous to the delivery of reactor fuel.

But every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

The Iranian government now is cracking down on public morality and what it calls “bad hijab.”

Last week, Guardian Council member Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati in his Friday prayer called for a crackdown on Iranian women, beginning with government employees and students. He also recommended the students to dress conservatively to get good grades. Ayatollah Ahmad Alam-al-Hoda of Mashhad went on even further, describing badly veiled women as foreign agents.

Morality police squads have now begun to crackdown on people with outfits and hairdos deemed un-Islamic. This time around, though, it’s not just the offenders of the dress code who are targeted, but shopkeepers as well. According to Babylon & Beyond, many clothing stores which sell coats for women deemed provocative by the anti-vice squad have been shut down as well. The vendors were warned by the police to sell only long coats and keep customers with daring outfits out of their stores.

“We were told by the moral security police to go to court and the judge will decide how much of a fine we will have to pay to reopen,” said one shopkeeper. “From now on we can only sell [coats] with a minimum length of 110 centimeters [about 43 inches] and we must not display them in a provocative way. Boys with spiky and fashionable hair and very short sleeves … are not allowed in our shops.”

“Our enemies intend to pull the rug of religion from under the feet of our youth by spreading bad veil in the society,” said al-Hoda. “Anytime badly veiled women and girls sport strong makeup to deviate a young man from the right path, the enemy will be pleased with victory.”

With the nuclear swap deal on the table, festering public discontent, and expectations of public demonstrations to mark the upcoming election anniversary, it seems the Islamic Republic has decided it is in need of another Great Satan: improper hijab.

Posted By Setareh Tabatabaie

    2 Responses to “And Yet Another Great Satan”

  1. Pirouz says:

    This can actually be seen as a return to pre-election norms.

    In the aftermath of the disputed election, law enforcement focused on sporadic episodes of civil disorder, and the strict enforcement of dress code was for the most part overlooked. Now, however, since 22 Bahman, relative order appears restored and authority secure, so the strict enforcement of the dress code has been resumed.

  2. Setareh Tabatabaie says:

    I’m afraid you are mistaken Pirouz. I come from Mashhad, which as I’m sure you already know is a much more religious city than Tehran. And even in Mashhad there were previously no such rules as 43 inch minimum manteaux and a banning on allowing boys with spiky hair to enter shops.

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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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