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  • 29 August 2008
  • Posted By Sara Shokravi
  • 0 Comments
  • Election 2008

Yes, We Can!

Guest post by Negin Sobhani

NIAC is a non-profit, non-partisan 501 c(3), and therefore does not endorse candidates for political office.  The following article should not be interpreted as an endorsement of any candidate for any office, and reflects solely the personal opinion of the author.

I understand Michelle Obama now more than ever. On Thursday, August 28, 2008, for the first time in my 26 years, I was truly proud of America and to be an American citizen. It went a little deeper than that though, because for the first time in my life, I cried during the singing of the national anthem. Usually, I have not been moved by emotions of the Olympian, soldier, astronaut, veteran, politician, or baseball player who stands up and pays homage to a flag and country that has not instilled in me that level of nationalism that it has for those who have more roots or owe their achievements solely to this country. I’m not sure if it was the way Jennifer Hudson sang the most beautiful and heartfelt rendition of the anthem I’ve ever heard or if it was the cumulative exhaustion from a 5-day whirlwind of events, activities, and sleeplessness or perhaps the sheer historic importance of the opening to a night I will remember for the rest of my life. Whatever it was, I know I wasn’t alone.

 

  • 28 August 2008
  • Posted By Sara Shokravi
  • 0 Comments
  • Uncategorized

This Isn’t Vegas, It’s Your Life

This isn’t Las Vegas; what happens in the rest of the world doesn’t stay there.  In fact, it very much affects us here in the United States.  It makes us more secure and prosperous, and that’s what makes America great.

It’s why we, as Iranian-Americans, have chosen to come here to the US.  In America we have striven to build our own expatriate version of the Persian Empire with prominent doctors, lawyers, engineers, artists, intellectuals, aspiring politicians and visionaries.  We have chosen to raise our future generations here, who will no doubt stay in the United States permanently.  It’s where some have come to escape uncertainty, choosing to live out their remaining years in a quiet corner of this country in the perfect house with a white picket fence, 2.5 kids, a garden, and a dog.  It’s where others have come to scream and shout.  But in the end it has been our choice; and so it must be our choice to participate and have a say because no one is going to hold our hands and ask us what we need and want from America.

  • 28 August 2008
  • Posted By Sara Shokravi
  • 1 Comments
  • Presidential 2008 Elections, Uncategorized

The Most Popular Kid…or a Has Been?

The United States is in horrible shape and is in dire need of some serious leadership.  Whoever the next president is, they would have to crawl out of a hole to ground level before reaching the sky.  At least that was the message to the 500 diplomats from 100 countries and 760 students from 12 high schools from around Colorado, which surrounded me.  We were gathered to hear Madeleine Albright and other prominent individuals speak on Enhancing America’s Reputation in the World.

The Rocky Mountain Roundtable was moderated by Tom Brokaw where the panelist painted a desperate picture of America’s foreign policy practices and its current state in the international forum.  According to pollster Geoff Garin even American’s have lost faith in US foreign policy and no longer agree that terrorism and war should be at the top of the agenda.  Instead they believe that the next president needs to focus on the economy and jobs.

Do you know your neighbor?

Last night, NIAC held an informal meet and greet where members of the community were welcomed to come by to meet NIAC staff and ask questions and discuss any issues on their mind.  Between the hours of 7-9 pm, Iranian-American Denver residents dropped in at their own convenience to say hello and talk politics.

During the meeting I was amazed to find out that there are approximately 4,000 to 10,000 Iranians in Colorado!  The large difference in the numbers is mainly due to a lack of accurate data since the last census was taken.  The 2000 U.S. Census places the overall Iranian number far lower than what is commonly predicted and Iranians are constantly growing in numbers. Hence, speculation often tends to range from the very low to the very high.

My amazement at the discovery of the numbers in Colorado came at the fact that we don’t know we exist!  We all know about Tehrangeles and New York and some other key locations Iranian Americans have chosen to migrate to, but we’re not too sure about our own neighbors.

Regardless, I am impressed by the large numbers and the apparent vibrant community here.  The individuals that we had an opportunity to meet with are well informed and very much aware of the political environment.  All in all, our informal event was well received and well attended.  Thanks to all of those who chose to take an hour or two of their evening to join us for an informal chit chat session!

To be or not to be: what is your identity?

Soldiers crowding the streets, strapped with imaginary guns, make their way through the city as they reenact combat as if they are on the streets of Baghdad.  Military veterans from Iraq are only few of the many groups in Denver, here to make a statement.  Everybody here has a message, whether in suits and in formal panels, or in dreadlocks and on the streets.  But it is obvious what the big issues are: everything!  Oil dependency, the economy, poverty, environment, race/gender/ethnicity/religious issues, women’s issues, healthcare, foreign policy, to name a few and all of them with their own long list of subcategories.

  • 26 August 2008
  • Posted By Sara Shokravi
  • 2 Comments
  • Election 2008

Yallah, Vote!

“I am Persian, like the cat, meow!”  And the crowd already rolling with laughter breaks out in an even louder burst of hilarity.  Just a few hours before, Michelle Obama delivered an inspirational speech formally kicking off the Democratic National Convention, speaking of “belief in America’s promise, [and] commitment to our children’s future.”  A harder act to follow, was that of an emotional Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), predicting a “new wave of change.”

Despite the challenge, Maz Jobrani and fellow comedians, Dean Obeidallah, Ahmad Ahmad, and Maysoon Zayid, did a stand up job in bringing in the crowd to two back to back shows and having them laughing their socks off at the Kabob Comedy show.  Jokes aside, all four comedians spoke passionately about the importance of voting and being an active Iranian/Arab/Muslim/female American (or any combination of) in today’s political climate.  Each having faced their own challenges, from the extreme of being detained post September 11 to racial slurs, they saw hope and change with the 2008 presidential election.

  • 14 January 2008
  • Posted By Sara Shokravi
  • 1 Comments
  • Presidential 2008 Elections

Democrats Battle for Votes in SC and NV as Republicans Lay Out for Michigan

We are nearing the end of January as this presidential race is proving to be the most fluid and exciting in recent memory. Dare we say it, the Republican race is sizzling as the candidates are giving last-minute appeals for votes in the critical Michigan primary. The latest Real Clear Politics’ poll has former governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) holding a slim lead over Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) of 27% to 26.3%. The Iranian American community has a golden opportunity to make their voice heard as the Republican contenders are scrambling for votes.

  • 10 January 2008
  • Posted By Sara Shokravi
  • 2 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Events in DC

Friendship on the Fault Lines

It is tragic when the only thing that is able to transcend bellicose rhetoric and confrontational policies is a catastrophe that flattens an entire city and consumes 50,000 lives in one night. In 2003 an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.6 destroyed the 2,000 year old citadel of Bam, entrapping and burying the inhabitants as the ancient city came crumbling down. Among those buried were Adele Freedman and Tobb Dell’Oro, two American tourists. Jahangir Golestan’s documentary, BAM 6.6, tells the intertwining stories of these two individuals along with the Iranians surrounding them.

The aim of the movie is to show how human empathy “transcends geopolitical differences with a simple message of love and hope amidst tragedy, unfolding through the story of two young American victims of this devastating earthquake.” Despite the uplifting feel good aura of the movie, what caught my attention was the international aid that poured into Bam particularly that from the United States.

  • 3 January 2008
  • Posted By Sara Shokravi
  • 1 Comments
  • Events in DC

Events for the Month of January

Happy New Year everyone!  As DC slowly comes back to life after the holidays, calendars are being filled with events.  However, with recent incidents in Pakistan and Kenya overshadowing all other news, there are few Iran related discussions and panels scheduled thus far.  But I will definitely keep you posted as more appear.  Click here for more information on Iran related events for the month of January. 

  • 4 December 2007
  • Posted By Sara Shokravi
  • 1 Comments
  • Events in DC

Events in D.C. for the Month of December

As part of our efforts to keep you informed about what is going on in the nation’s Capitol, I will regularly share with you a listing of upcoming events relating to issues that matter to our community. Even if you are not in DC and can not attend it is always good to stay in touch with the various policy panels, conferences, and speeches that affect the Iranian-American community.

Below is a list of events for the month of December that pertain to Iran issues. Most of these events will be covered by NIAC staff members and who will publish reports on our website and in our weekly e-bulletin (to sign up follow the link and look on the top left panel on the website).

Note that due to staff constraints and lack of relevance, some events do not receive covereage. If you are aware of other relevant events in DC not mentioned in our list, please let me know in the comment section below.

Follow this link to see the events for December.

 

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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