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  • 4 March 2009
  • Posted By Sahar Jooshani
  • Civil Rights Legislation, Culture, Iranian American Life

Civil rights in jeopardy in Oklahoma

oklahoma-flag1Our founding fathers would roll over in their graves if they could only see the events taking place in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

On March 2nd, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed legislation (H.B. 1645) that would “strictly prohibit” individuals from wearing “head scarves” and “head garments” in driver’s license photographs. Members of the House voted 88-8 in favor of the measure.

The Tulsa World, an Oklahoman media outlet, reported that the legislation was introduced by Oklahoma Republican Rep. Rex Duncan in light of the Norman Department of Motor Vehicles allowing Monique Barrett, a Muslim woman, to take her driver’s license photo while wearing a hijab.

In the past Rep. Duncan has made headlines by refusing to accept a copy of the Quran as a gift from the Governor’s Ethnic American Advisory Council. When asked for comment, Rep. Duncan was quoted as saying “Most Oklahomans do not endorse the idea of killing innocent women and children in the name of ideology….I know that not all Muslims are terrorists, but I don’t know of another religion or ideology that employs terrorism and the threat of terrorism.’’

Former NIAC intern dedicated summer to helping youth in West Bank

Two Georgetown University Students spent their summer pursuing an idealistic plan hatched up during a night of red bull drinking. Rod Solaimani, an Iranian-American of Jewish heritage and Hammad Hammad, a Palestinian Muslim organized summer camps in the areas of Deheisheh, Jalazun and Al-Azzeh.

  • 27 January 2009
  • Posted By Sahar Jooshani
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iranian Youth

Tehran’s hypocrisy on women’s rights; soccer edition

On Monday January 20th for the first time since the 1979 revolution, a soccer match involving men vs. women took place in Iran. Unfortunately, government officials were none too pleased at the watershed match.

  • 23 January 2009
  • Posted By Sahar Jooshani
  • Sanctions

Obama’s Treasury pick vows financial action against Iran

AFP reports that Obama’s pick for Treasury Secretary Timoty Geithner will continue to put financial pressure on the Iranian banking system.

Obama’s Treasury pick vows financial action against Iran

January 22, 2009

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Treasury secretary-designate Timothy Geithner vowed to pursue the US government’s financial offensive on Iran to stamp out its alleged weapons proliferation and support for terrorism.

In written answers to members of the Senate finance committee, released Thursday as part of his confirmation process, Geithner noted that Treasury has blacklisted a number of Iranian banks and companies over those concerns.

“If confirmed as secretary of the Treasury, I would consider the full range of tools available to the US Department of the Treasury, including unilateral measures, to prevent Iran from misusing the financial system to engage in proliferation and terrorism,” he wrote in response to senators’ questions.

“I agree wholeheartedly that the Department of the Treasury has done outstanding work in ratcheting up the pressure on Iran, both by vigorously enforcing our sanctions against Iran and by sharing information with key financial actors around the world about how Iran’s deceptive conduct poses a threat to the integrity of the financial system,” Geithner said.

  • 22 January 2009
  • Posted By Sahar Jooshani
  • Diplomacy, Nuclear file, Persian Gulf

A Critical Decision in the Midst of the New Administration

Obama has taken office. His first day was filled with phone calls to the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, Israel and the president of the Palestinian Authority. It is evident that Obama is making an early effort to deal with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, an effort that was lacking in the administration of George. W. Bush.

Yet, we have seen little confirmation as to who will take on the difficult role of dealing with Iran. The three rumored front-men for the job are Dennis Ross, George Mitchell, and Richard Haas. Though these three men come from politically impressive backgrounds, their areas of expertise are distinctively different.

  • 21 January 2009
  • Posted By Sahar Jooshani
  • Diplomacy, Human Rights in Iran, Persian Gulf

Aids doctors suspected of plot to overthrow Iranian government

Brothers Arash and Kamyar Alaie were imprisoned by the Iranian government in June of 2008 and faced trial on December 31st 2008 in a private hearing in Tehran. The two Iranian doctors were doing AIDS/HIV research in Iran.

The Iranian government claimed that the two doctors and two other unnamed individuals were working with the CIA, in a $32 million plan to overthrow the Iranian government. The government claimed that the doctors were working to stir up a social revolution.

Arash was given six years and his brother three. There is no evidence to explain the difference in their sentencing. Their charges are based on Article 508 of Iran’s Penal Code which allows up to ten years’ imprisonment for “cooperation with an enemy government,” though the Penal Code is silent as to what constitutes “cooperation” or what is meant by an “enemy government.”

  • 8 January 2009
  • Posted By Sahar Jooshani
  • Culture, Events in Iran, Iranian Youth

The Elimination of the Concour: Better Late than Never

For some time now, education policymakers in Iran have debated the necessity of the infamous Concour examinations for university admissions. After several years, Iran has decided to implement guidelines that would do away with these compulsory university entrance examinations.

For the majority of Iranian students, this dreaded exam is a one-way ticket to the bottom of the financial ladder. Of the 1.3 million people that take it, only 10% score high enough to place into public sector work or graduate programs. This means the majority of the population of young adults in Iran are left to fend for themselves in a miserable job market with over 25% youth unemployment.  So what does this mean for Iran’s future? Nothing good.

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.



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