• 12 August 2010
  • Posted By Shawn Vl
  • Uncategorized

On Monday, the NY Times published an article discussing the rising number of Iranians seeking to study int he US and the hardships they encounter in the process of applying for U.S student visa’s.  The piece suggests that more Iranians are coming to the U.S. to study because of repression at home, where Iranian students who express their political views are blacklisted from universities and forced to continue their education abroad. But troubles for Iranian students continue once they have left, since  the U.S. only permits Iranian students to obtain single-entry visas, meaning students are unable to leave the U.S. at any point during their studies–which in some cases can be for up to a decade–even for academic conferences or to visit sick family members.

It is mind boggling that the White House has procrastinated so long to alter the single-entry student visa policy vis-à-vis Iran. I say mind boggling because Washington is allowing its political confrontation to impact academic and cultural exchanges with Tehran.  A common excuse cited by the State Department to justify its single-entry policy is predicated on the principle of “reciprocity” –which is supposed to replicate the student visa procedures of the country with which we have no diplomatic relations. But ironically, Iran’s student visa posture actually allows foreigners to study in Iran without the single-entry restrictions that Washington has imposed on Iranian students. It is regrettable that the White House, which has the authority to change this burdensome policy, is managing to perpetuate a bitter divide that only exasperates tensions and limits the possibility of cultural and academic dialogue between our two nations.

Iranian students already face serious obstacles from their government to study in the west. For example, Iran’s Minister of Health, Marzieh Dastjerdi has announced that the new restrictions will apply to students seeking to study in Britain and the United States. Dastjerdi’s announcement is in line with the Supreme Leader’s wish to discourage any study abroad program that exposes Iranian students to western educational institutions. One may ask why the Ayatollah would be so afraid if Iranian students studied in Europe or the U.S. And perhaps, the best answer is that those who travel abroad may better realize how their system of governance is so authoritarian and repressive that it will entice them to demand for change.

It is in our interest to open our doors to ambitious Iranian students who desire to receive the best education the world can offer. Such an opportunity can usher a new prosperous phase in citizen diplomacy, and more importantly, would create a bridge between our cultures that will overcome decades of animosities and misconceptions.

Therefore, it is very disconcerting to learn that Washington’s reciprocity principle is based on mirroring the Islamic Republic’s indignant policy toward Iranian students which is detrimental to the advancement of human rights and democracy in Iran.

Posted By Shawn Vl

    3 Responses to “Iranian Students Face Hardships at Home, Obstacles in the U.S.”

  1. Pirouz says:

    Let’s see now, higher education in Iran is free to qualifying students, as is basic healthcare.

    Higher education in the US with basic healthcare costs students many tens of thousands of dollars.

    What were we talking about? Oh yeah, hardships…

  2. Iranian-American says:

    Pirouz, your comment above along with similar ones you have left previously demonstrate a extreme lack of understanding about education and healthcare in the US and Iran. I find it hard to believe you are actually this misinformed.

  3. Rob1 says:

    Free higher education, unless you are political which then you get a “star”, thrown in jail or killed. Then after school, there is 15% unemployment which is the official line but if anyone who has actually been to iran, unlike Pirouz, would know it’s much higher. Then there’s the brain drain, one of the highest in the world. Healthcare in Iran is not free, and not free for students. Many US schools offer basic health care coverage for like $20 a year.

    Pirouz, again…the first to post using incredibly outlandish comparisons to distract from from the crimes of the IRI.

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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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