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Darius Shahinfar Loses Race to Represent NY-21 in Congress

Darius Shahinfar lost his bid for the Democratic nomination to represent NY-21 in Congress

Darius Shahinfar lost his bid for the Democratic nomination to represent NY-21 in Congress

Darius Shahinfar, the first generation American of Iranian descent who ran in the Democratic primary in the NY-21 Congressional race, lost last night.  New York voters in the district, which includes parts of Albany, Schenectady, Troy, and Johnstown, voted for Paul Tonko with 39% of the vote.  The low turnout election brought out over 38,000 voters.  Mr. Shahinfar, who was not considered a favorite recieved 3,879 votes.

Shahinfar’s canidacy did draw the interest and attention of the Iranian American community that raised over a hundred thousand dollars for his campaign.  During the campaign, he posted a video on his website in which talked about his heritage and what it meant for him personally and politically.

Colin Abele who covered the NY-21 primary election for the popular New York blog The Albany Project said of Shahinfar that “He ran an excellent campaign on true American values.”

Darius follows in the footsteps of other Iranian American candidates such as Goli Ameri, Ross Mir-Karimi, and others who have entered the political arena and embracing their Iranian American identity.

Meet one of the Iranian American Delegates at the Democratic National Convention

Iranian American Delegates at the Democratic Convention

Iranian American Delegates at the Democratic Convention

Emily Blout and Sara Shokravi covered the DNC for NIAC all week from Denver, but it was Sima Sarrafan who represented the Iranian American community on the floor of the convention as a DNC delegate from Washington State.  Ms. Sarrafan represents the newly invigorated interest in political participation here the United States as a new generation of Iranian Americans lose the anachrostic fears of ‘politics’ that has long defined our community.

Sima was also interviewed on Charlie Rose’s show on August 28th.  Go to minute 23:00 to listen to her interview about her experience as Obama’s classmate at Harvard Law School.   Our community should commend this type of political involvement irrelevant of the political party.

  • 4 September 2008
  • Posted By Babak Talebi
  • Election 2008, Presidential 2008 Elections

In the Convention Hall During McCain’s Speech

We are sitting in the convention hall and so far 3 different protesters have unfurled signs and yelled at Sen. McCain, only to be drowned out by chants of “USA!”

Honestly though, the audience seems very listless with only about 1/3rd standing during most applause lines. The loudest applause came when McCain said the words ‘Palin’, ‘Bush’, or ‘Petreaus’.

Oh, by the way. I’m sitting next to Paul Reickhoff of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

Update: “Drill, baby drill!!” Loudest chant so far

Rochester’s 200 Iranian Americans

Last night I had the pleasure of sitting down with about ten IAs at a restaurant in Rochester, MN.  The town of 99,000+, the third largest in Minnesota, is home of the renowned Mayo Clinic medical facility (treating the likes of George HW Bush, Henry Kissinger, Jalal Talibani, and King Hussein of Jordan), which employs about a third of the city’s working-age residents.  The Clinic, and its associated School of Medicine and various medical fellowship and residency programs are a big draw for Iranian American students and that is reflected in the Iranian American community that has been formed in Rochester.


So as you can imagine, we had a vibrant and eclectic conversation about our community’s political activism, healthcare laws, the Presidential election, and…  tax policy!! 

Of Open Bars and McCain’s Outreach efforts to the IA community

So as you would have guessed, it’s not all serious panels and speeches at these political conventions.  Just like the Democrats in Denver, the Republicans know how to let loose and have a lot of fun – with a characteristic penchant for spending money freely.


Of the many sights and sounds one takes in during a week-long city-wide bash like this, the most impressive was seeing the political operatives at work in their element, including our ‘guide’ here in St. Paul, McCain’s outreach coordinator to the Iranian American community.



Debating Iran Policy – Republican experts don’t hold back

Within an hour of having landed at Minneapolis airport (and having to pass up our golden opportunity to visit it’s infamous bathroom), Patrick and I found ourselves going through 3 layers of security and 5 iterations of having our names checked off of the RSVP list for the IRI panel. 


No, I promise that the ‘Islamic Republic of Iran’ is not hosting a panel discussion at the RNC, rather this was a star-studded (for you IR geeks out there) event hosted by The International Republican Institute titled: National Security in a Global Era (you can listen to it at the link).  The panelists included a former Secretary of State, a former National Security Advisor, a former Chair of the house Intelligence Committee, and its most junior member having started his illustrious career with the Reagan administration in 1981. Amateur night, this was not!



Identity Politics and electing Iranian Americans

Last week, NIAC sent out a report on its mailing list about an Iranian-American candidate for US Congress. Darius Shahinfar declared his candidacy from New York’s 21st district and faces a competitive primary to be the Democratic nominee in an overwhelmingly Democratic district. In response to the article, I received several emails from our members and other Iranian Americans asking some very legitimate questions –

Should our community automatically support an Iranian American candidate? Does he even have a chance with four primary opponents? Can Iranian Americans impact this race in upstate New York?

I want to spark a conversation on these topics and tackle them one by one. First, follow me behind the link to talk about identity politics…

  • 12 March 2008
  • Posted By Babak Talebi
  • Diplomacy, Neo-Con Agenda, Persian Gulf, US-Iran War

Fallon’s Retirement has unclear implications for US-Iran War

On Tuesday, the Pentagon announced that Admiral William Fallon, the 41-year navy veteran and commander of US Central Command (CentCom) requested permission to retire, and that Secretary Gates approved his request.  Last week, Thomas Barnett of Esquire Magazine published a revealing piece speculating that Fallon might be pushed out because he “was the strongest man standing between the Bush Administration and a war with Iran.”

  • 5 March 2008
  • Posted By Babak Talebi
  • Diplomacy, Iranian American activism, Neo-Con Agenda

Disrupting Discourse

On February 22, Amnesty International hosted a panel presentation and discussion titled, “Human Rights in Iran: How to Move Forward,” in Beverly Hills, California. The event was disrupted by Mohammad Parvin’s MEHR-Iran organization, various monarchist factions, and members of the outlawed Iranian Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK); and was cancelled after the opening remarks.

Download Farsi version in PDF 

  • 4 March 2008
  • Posted By Babak Talebi
  • About

Official Launch: Welcome to NIACinSight

Fellow NIAC members,


Welcome to NIAC’s official blog!

Over the past year, we have seen tremendous growth here in DC going from 3 full-time employees in January of 2007 to eight currently working out of our offices.  This growth and the extensive support of the community has meant that we have a lot more information we would like to share with you and a need to have more lines of communication to our members.

Through this blog, we will be able to share insights about the “behind-the-scenes” dealings in DC that go beyond the range of topics covered in our newsletter and website. Furthermore, the blog is meant to engage Iranian-Americans, as well as the broader American public, in an ongoing discussion about current issues important to our community.

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.



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