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  • 6 August 2008
  • Posted By Julia Murray
  • Iranian American activism

Save Persepolis Artifacts!

NIAC has created a group on Facebook entitled “Save Persepolis Artifacts!” Priceless 2,500 year old Persian tablets – currently on display at some of America’s preeminent institutions – may be put up for auction as plaintiffs seek to recover court-awarded damages against the Iranian government. NIAC has been following developments in the case closely and will be acting as Amicus Curiae for the lawsuits. To read a background analysis of the case click here.

NIAC believes that to auction off these ancient artifacts would be detrimental, not only to world history, but also to the practice of cultural and academic exchange. Most important to us, however, is the devastating effect that their sale would have on the Iranian-American community. These objects form an important element of Iranian-American cultural identity and historical pride. To sell them would be to punish Iranian Americans for the actions of a government they do not support.

Please show your support for our fight by joining the group!

NJ Voter Registration Fiasco

Zary Mojtabai and her sister were both denied their vote in their preferred New Jersey Primary earlier this year. When they showed up at the polling station they were informed that they were tagged as Republicans, even though they had not officially affiliated themselves with either political party. Consequently, they were ineligible to vote in the Democratic Primary. The inability to exercise their right was further soured by the fact that their votes as Democrats were significant in their mostly Republican district; Mojtabai commented that “We were really looking forward to participate in this first major New Jersey primary election and it has been very frustrating to encounter such an ambiguous obstacle.”

Wexler takes a stand: Iran Resolution Must Change!

Amid the swirling controversy over H.Con.Res. 362, Representative Robert Wexler (D-FL) argued on Wednesday that the “Iran Resolution Must Change.” We here at NIAC completely agree. In an article published in the Huffington Post the Congressman argued that H.Con.Res.362 must not be passed as it currently stands. Instead, he says America must engage in diplomacy with Iran and not use military force.

  • 2 July 2008
  • Posted By Julia Murray
  • Diplomacy, Events in DC, Legislative Agenda, US-Iran War

Reflections from Nuclear Tourists

Ever heard of a couple choosing to vacation at nuclear energy sites? Your answer is probably no but that is exactly what husband and wife, Nathan Hodge and Sharon Weinberger, decided to do when writing their book A Nuclear Family Vacation: Travels in the World of Atomic Weaponry. In addition to visiting sites in America and Russia, they traveled to Iran in 2007 after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad‘s 2006 invitation when he welcomed students, tourists and other visitors to see Iran’s nuclear facilities in order to display his country’s peaceful intentions.

Conference of Mayors’ International Affairs Committee Passes No War in Iran Resolution

The “Opposing Military Intervention in Iran” Resolution passed through the International Affairs Committee, 7-5, at the US Conference of Mayors last Friday. This event is currently being held in Miami, Florida and the resolution needed to be voted out of committee in order to reach the Conference floor. The full floor vote was scheduled for this morning at 10am E.S.T. but the results have yet to be released.

The committee’s passage of the resolution was an important development in the case against war with Iran. It is another indication that the public do not want military action to be taken against Iran. The members of the International Affairs Committee who argued against this resolution did not base their logic on national interest. Instead their objections rested more on the desire not to divide the Conference. It has been reported that they did not want to create debate and disruption among the mayors gathered in Miami and cause a repeat of the “Iraq: Bring the Troops Home” resolution which led to a two hour debate during last year’s meeting.

“Time to Talk to Iran” event and press conference – 06/10

I attended my first event on behalf of NIAC the other day. It was set-up by the Campaign for a New American Policy on Iran (CNAPI) and the Enough Fear Campaign and was entitled “Time to Talk to Iran.” By setting up a line of attention-grabbing red 1960’s style “hotline” telephones the organizers were able to attract people to speak directly to Iranians. Apart from being fun and fresh, this initiative had a serious message behind it: America should use diplomacy rather than go to war with Iran.

  • 9 June 2008
  • Posted By Julia Murray
  • About, Iranian American activism, Legislative Agenda

First Day at NIAC

It is my first day interning at NIAC and I am very excited to be here. I am from Scotland and attend St Andrews University but I have been in America since last August on my junior year abroad. Studying in the U.S. has been a fantastic experience and one that has opened many doors for me, not least because of the opportunity to intern in Washington, D.C.

From these introductory remarks it is obvious that I am not Iranian American. Nevertheless, I found a placement at NIAC extremely appealing for a number of reasons. First, my major is International Relations and consequently the issues that NIAC deals with are relevant for this area of study. I hope that interning here will better my understanding of U.S. foreign policy, as well as civil society and its influence over policy making. More specifically, the issues that NIAC deals with pertain to my major and are important from an international affairs point of view. For instance, its efforts to highlight human rights abuses in Iran; I wish I could have been around when NIAC held its conference on “Human Rights in Iran and U.S. Policy Options” since I am especially interested in this topic.

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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