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  • 2 October 2009
  • Posted By Michelle Moghtader
  • 3 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

“Ahmadi, Israel, Congratulations on your Marriage!”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYhaBBzT6pY]
While metro trains in the US are normally filled with the sound of music leaking from iPods, Iran’s are filled with political chants. Seen here in Tehran’s metro system, (yes, they have a metro system, a very advanced one I might add) are people chanting, “Ahmadi, Israel, congratulations on your marriage!” Followed by, “Basjis, Israel, congratulations on your marriage!” During the protests following the election, Basijis were called “Israelis” by other Iranians, because they responded to small attacks, people throwing rocks, with a disproportionate amount of force and guns.

There are a few lone voices chanting, “Death to Israel,” but those don’t seem to take hold. They are probably from Ahmadinejad supporters unhappy with the predominant chant. At the end, the tried and true “Death to Dictator” is chanted. Despite Ahmadinejad’s strong words against the state of Israel, many Iranians seem to see them as one and the same.

  • 3 September 2009
  • Posted By Michelle Moghtader
  • 1 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Human Rights in Iran, Sanctions

Interfering in Iran: Obama’s Dilemma

Here’s the latest op-ed from NIAC member Masoud Shafaee – as published in the World Politics Review.

Last week saw the fourth round of Iran’s Stalinesque show trials, with the broadcast of yet another prominent reformist’s coerced “confession.” As with previous reformists paraded into court proceedings that are widely viewed as illegitimate, Saeed Hajjarian, one of the students involved in the 1979 U.S. Embassy takeover, was charged with stirring up unrest at the bidding of Western powers.

The charge of “Western interference” has long been the centerpiece of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s propaganda machine, even before the disputed June presidential elections. In addition to the more than 100 reformists who have been put on trial for crimes against national security, the BBC, Twitter, Facebook, and Google have all also been implicated by hardliners close to his administration.

But Ahmadinejad has gone even further, openly contradicting Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei by calling for the prosecution of Mir Hossein Moussavi, Mehdi Karoubi, and former reformist president Mohammad Khatami. “Those masterminds who organized and instigated the riots followed the enemy line, have to be seriously confronted . . . and should by no means enjoy immunity,” he said.

The charges have fallen on deaf ears for now. Moussavi, a two-term prime minister, Khatami, a two-term president, and Karoubi, the former chair of Iran’s parliament, all have solid revolutionary credentials and were close to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founding father of the Islamic Republic. But they serve as a reminder that U.S. and Western policy toward Iran could very well have unintended consequences in Iran.


Continue reading at World Politics Review…

  • 30 August 2009
  • Posted By Michelle Moghtader
  • 0 Comments
  • Events in Iran

Green Trio Forced to Cancel Iftar Ceremony

According to Zahra Rahnavard’s Facebook page, Mousavi, Khatami, and Karroubi were forced to call off their Iftar ceremony because of crowds gathering outside the Amir Almomenin Mosque in Tehran. Iftar refers to the evening meal when Muslims break their fast during the holy month of Ramadan. The video shows small crowds chanting “Ya Hossein! Mir Hossein!” and “Coup d’etat govenment, resign! Resign!”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVXS9ttAcIE]

  • 26 August 2009
  • Posted By Michelle Moghtader
  • 0 Comments
  • Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Madonna, “The Planet Needs You!”

From images of children starving in Africa, to new pictures of protesters in Iran, Neda and other “Where’s My Vote” images, Madonna turns her concerts into awareness events. She tells her fans that the “Time is Now” to “Get up!” and become aware of the problems surrounding us.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcBKv3WJfBs]

  • 17 August 2009
  • Posted By Michelle Moghtader
  • 2 Comments
  • Events in Iran

Iran wins the Asia Cup, not their people

Wang Zhizhi (L) of China defends during the final against Iran Despite an embarrassing failure by the Iranian National Soccer Team to qualify for the World Cup, the Iranian National Basketball team won the Asia Cup yesterday. They defeated the host country, China by 18 points to land the Asian basketball title, becoming a small source of pride for Iranians.

But, unlike soccer, wrestling, and volleyball, basketball simply doesn’t have the same appeal to Iranians. The plight of Iranian national soccer team has come to measure the successes and failures of the government if Iran. Many saw the Iranian soccer team’s misfortune as another letdown by an Ahmadinedjad-run government. When Iran wins a soccer match, men and women of all ages pour into the streets to celebrate, such was not the case yesterday. Although the basketball team won the Asia cup, they still haven’t won over the Iranian people.

  • 20 July 2009
  • Posted By Michelle Moghtader
  • 18 Comments
  • Iran Election 2009

Haute Couture goes Green

Model wearing Green wrist bandMariotto honors Neda

Green has never looked so good. Italian designer Guillermo Mariotto wore a Neda Alive shirt to honor Neda, who was killed during the Iranian election aftermath. Mariotto’s attention to detail is quite admirable as every model on the catwalk wore a green ribbon on their wrist.

  • 21 June 2009
  • Posted By Michelle Moghtader
  • 13 Comments
  • Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009, MEK

The Danger of Hijacked Rallies

State-run TV in Iran is showing demonstrations in other countries such as the US, however with some serious editing. They are not broadcasting the majority of people standing and shouting in solidarity with people in Iran. Rather, they show images of demonstrators who shout, “Death to the Islamic Republic,” while they hold pre-1979 flags of Iran which have come to symbolize the monarchy. Even worse, they show rallies organized by the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran now known as the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI,MKO, MEK, or PMOI), who are on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations as they have killed Americans and Iranians alike.

State run TV goes on to make statements along the lines of, “These are the organizations which are supporting the ‘rioters’ and ‘terrorists’ that fill the streets of Tehran.” As a contact in Iran said,

The only concern that we have now is the bloody Rajavis (MEK), who now want to benefit from the situation. They are definitely helping the dictators. They are only giving more reasons for cracking down the people. May God protect us all.

DC Iranians Americans Expand Frustration to Russians…then Chinese

DC Iranian Americans are not tiring as they become reenergized by seeing their fellow Iranians continue to protest despite the violence. Yesterday, more than 200 hundred people gathered outside of the Iranian Interest Section in Washington, DC. Black and green colored the crowd that came together to mourn the loss of lives in Iran, and to show their solidarity with the Iranian people. Individuals held signs asking, “Where is My Vote?” and sang song such as “Ey Iran” and “Yar e Dabestani.” About an hour into the gathering the crowd marched in silence, following the example of their counterparts in Iran, towards the Russian Embassy. This act was conducted in defiance of Russia’s recognition of Ahmadinejad’s victory during his visit to the state on Tuesday. Further, participants held a candle light vigil and a moment of silence to honor the loss of innocent lives in the aftermath of recent protests in Iran.

The next gathering will be on Thursday, June 18th at 6 PM in front of the Iranian Interest Section and they will walk probably walk to the Russian and Chinese Embassy. This gathering will be followed by another one on Saturday June 20th (Global Protest: Where is My Vote?) at 11 am in front of the Iranian Interest Section in Washington, DC.

Iranian Americans have overwhelming come out in support of Moussvai, or at in support of free and fair elections. Most Iranian Americans have friends and families in the Tehran, who support Moussavi, and not the poorer provinces in Iran where Ahmadinejad does have real support- so naturally they are standing in solidarity with them. We have not seen any pro-Ahmadinejad protests to date, however, if there are any, please let us know as want people to have a complete picture of what Iranian-American reactions have been.

  • 16 June 2009
  • Posted By Michelle Moghtader
  • 5 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Iran Election 2009

“How Soccer Explains the World”…except Iran?

Ghotbi inTehran Iran’s qualifying match for the World Cup is tomorrow. As Franklin Foer says in his book, “How Football Explains the World” when Iran qualified for the World Cup for the first time in the history of the Islamic Republic back in 1997, “Their joy led them to dispense with official morality…dancing, drinking, and western pop music became the stuff of public celebration.” He goes on to say that women even began to throw off their hejabs and the Basij, who were supposed to calm the crowds, were actually overcome by joy and joined the crowds.

Now, their frustration and anger has already led Iranians to the streets. If Iran loses, and assuming the success of the team reflects the success of the country, will Ahmadinejad or Khamenei succumb to the pressures of change, further inciting the protesters and dividing the people? Seeing as people are already out in the streets, if Iran wins, even more people will pour out perhaps causing chaos which will surely be hard to quell. Will the win be a uniting force?

I find it very interesting that after Iran lost 2-1 versus Saudi Arabia on March 28 they fired the coach, Iranian Ali Daei and brought in Iranian-American Afshin Gotbi to salvage their bid. Was the loss a precursor of the current loss of stability in Iran? Perhaps they didn’t devote enough resources before, and by bringing in Gotbi they can re-energize the players and the game. Although he probably doesn’t see himself as so, but if the clean-shaven Gotbi, representative of the “West,” leads the team towards victory, will this be a signal to the Iranian government to open up towards the West and as Obama asked “unclench their fists?”

Under normal circumstances, sports newspapers would be sold out and people would be forecasting and preparing to watch the Iran v. S.Korea match. But in a couple of hours, Iranians aren’t predicting the outcome of the game, but the future of their country…all the while, the world is watching.

More Protests in DC

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For a second day in a row, about 150 people gathered in front of the Iranian Interest Section in Washington, DC at 6pm on June 15 to denounce the alleged election fraud and to stand in solidarity with the Iranian people. The crowd supporting the “Where is My Vote?” campaign explicitly separated themselves from those with other agendas by standing on the opposite side of the street (facing Daftar).

Towards the end of the gathering two individuals appeared on the opposing side of the street to support Ahmadinejad. Althoughblog2 some booed him, there were far less flags than yesterday. The gathering continued peacefully until 8 PM.

The next gathering in Washington DC will be on Wednesday, June 17th at 6 PM in front of the Iranian Interest Section on Wisconsin Avenue.

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,

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