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  • 12 June 2009
  • Posted By Parisa Ghobbeh
  • Iran Election 2009, Iranian Youth

Excitement builds as Iranians rush to polls

moussavi supporters

Excitement is in the air today in Iran as millions of people cast their vote in what is turning out to be an historic election.  And the whole world is watching with keen interest for signs of a possible shift in Iran’s choice as their next President.

Voter turnout today has been unprecedented, with a record number of people voting—in fact, MSNBC has reported that 80% of the Iranian population is expected to turn out.  The election has seen an enormous surge of energy, especially since the nationally televised presidential debates (the first of its kind in the history of the Islamic Republic). The streets of Tehran have been packed with people showing their support for their respective candidates, and hopes that their vote will make a difference in this election.

The battle for the presidency is mainly between incumbent President Mahmoud Ahamdinejad and reformist candidate Mir Housein Moussavi. Ahmadinjejad is notorious in the west for his inflammatory comments regarding Israel and the United States, and many hope a Moussavi victory will bring positive change and a chance for engagement between the US and Iran.

The youth vote is going to be a significant factor in these elections, similar to the past 2008 Obama election in the United States. And young people actually dominate the Iranian population—as about 70% of the population is under thirty-five. The majority of young people in Iran have placed their vibrant support behind Moussavi, as can be seen in their adoption of the color green in their dress, which has become the signature color of his campaign.

Polling has been extended by two hours because of the vast number of people who have turned out to vote. We should know the result of the elections by tomorrow if there is a clear majority. However, if no candidate receives at least 50% of the vote, a run-off between the top two candidates will occur next Friday.

We at NIAC are watching the election closely, and will keep you updated on all the information on this exciting time for Iranians all over the world.

  • 8 June 2009
  • Posted By Parisa Ghobbeh
  • Iran Election 2009, Sanctions

UANI undermining Obama with Iran divestment


While the Iranian presidential election is mere days away, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) and some in Congress have made a renewed push for H.R. 1327, the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act.  This ad, paid for by UANI, will air on cable news networks this week.

As Obama has made it apparent that he desires to open dialogue and have peaceful diplomacy with Iran, UANI and others have sought to push even more economic sanctions on the country. Beginning Tuesday morning, UANI will place a television advertisement on major cable stations entitled “Unclenched fist” depicting Iran as the most active state sponsor of terrorism in the world, urging people to both support sanctions against the country and to urge leaders to prohibit Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

The measure they and other Iran hawks are promoting this week is H.R. 1327, which authorizes state and local governments to divest from Iran.  Many people fear that if passed, especially prior to the Iranian elections, it will tip the vote in favor of Ahmadinejad, who currently seems to be losing ground in the elections. People are taking to the streets in Tehran, fervently supporting Mir Hossein Moussavi. And after televised national debates between the candidates, Moussavi appears to have the upper hand. Therefore, provocative legislation against Iran such as this before Iranians go to the polls—could actually hurt Moussavi’s increasing momentum.

So, why is it that UANI is pushing for an Iranian divestment bill to pass the same week as the Iranian election? It seems as though the right thing for Americans to do now is allow for the elections to occur peacefully and in their own right, and decide on a course of action after diplomacy has been given sufficient time to succeed. Any move for sanctions or divestment now could be seen as American meddling in the election, which every expert agrees would be disastrous.  In my opinion, UANI should avoid undermining Obama, and give his peaceful diplomatic course a chance.

update: It appears as though rational heads have prevailed, as some on the Financial Services Committee advised leaders to take the bill off the calendar for this week.  Now the American people will have to decide for themselves about UANI’s publicized ads. Will they be swayed to support a new sanctions bill? Or will they place trust in Obama’s attempts at diplomacy?

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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