Currently Browsing

Culture

  • 18 March 2010
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • 0 Comments
  • Congress, Culture

Updated: Senate to Introduce Norooz Resolution Today

4/19/10 2pm Update:

The Norooz Resolution was introduced this morning. With your help, we have garnered the support of Senators Boxer (D-CA), Webb (D-VA), McCain (R-AZ), Kaufman (D-DE), Merkley (D-OR), Burris (D-IL), Lieberman (I-CT), Levin (D-MI), Brown (D-OH), Byrd (D-WV), Klobuchar (D-MN), Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Hatch (R-UT).

You can read the Senate Resolution here.

Let’s get this passed! Write your Senators to ask them to support the Norooz Resolution or to thank them for their support!

——-

Tell Your Senators to Become a Cosponsor Today!

Fresh off the heels of the House of Representatives’ historic vote to pass the Norooz Resolution, Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and John Cornyn (R-TX) are planning to introduce a Norooz Resolution in the Senate today! The resolution would confer U.S. Senate recognition upon Norooz for the first time in history!

To build off our recent success in the House, NIAC has been working with Senators Menendez and Cornyn to ensure the Norooz Resolution has broad, bipartisan support to move through the Senate.

Similar to the House resolution, the Senate Norooz Resolution commemorates the Iranian New Year, celebrates Iran’s rich cultural traditions, expresses appreciation to Iranian Americans for their contributions to society, and wishes Iranian Americans and the Iranian people a prosperous new year.

With a Senate Norooz Resolution, both bodies of Congress are poised to recognize the Iran New Year. Congress honoring one of our most cherished traditions is a true testament to the growing strength of Iranian-American voices in the American political system.

But we must act soon to encourage our Senators to support this measure. Send a letter today to your Senator wishing them a happy Norooz and urging them to sign on as a cospsonsor of the Senate Norooz Resolution!

  • 15 March 2010
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 8 Comments
  • Culture, Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran

Yeah, not so much…. Nice try though.

The Supreme Leader on Sunday called for Iranians to shun Chaharshanbeh Souri, deeming it “void of religious roots and cause of great harm and corruption.” Chaharshanbeh Souri takes place on the eve of the last Wednesday of the year (tomorrow night), preceding Norooz and Saleh Tahveel (the Spring Equinox marking the New Year). More from Radio Zamaneh via Payvand News:

This fire festival… is an ancient Iranian pagan festival which involves the building of bonfires and symbolic gestures and chants that summon the fire to burn all sickness and lend its energy to a healthy new year.

A number of Shiite clerics have described the event “superstitious” and called for its dismantlement.

Iranian opposition forces have announced that they will take part in the events of the last Wednesday Eve of the year, which falls on March 16, and use it as an opportunity to reaffirm their protests against the current government which they claim has come to power through election fraud last June.

And from AFP via Yahoo! News:

Iranians celebrate the fire festival by lighting bonfires in public places on the night before the last Wednesday and leaping over the flames shouting “Sorkhiye to az man, Zardiye man az to (Give me your redness and I will give you my paleness).”

Some clerics see the ritual as heretical fire worshipping, although it has been marked in Iran for centuries and, like the Persian New Year itself and some other ancient rituals, has survived the advent of Islam.

For thousands of years Iranians have celebrated these holidays through thick and thin. No matter what culture or religion was thrust upon them by foreign invaders, they maintained their New Year festivals. Even those in the Diaspora have continued the celebrations abroad.

They’re not going to stop now.

  • 27 February 2010
  • Posted By Darioush Azizi
  • 0 Comments
  • Culture, Events in DC

“The Bakhtiari Alphabet” to be screened at GW tonight

George Washington University and Georgetown University’s Iranian Cultural Societies will be screening “The Bakhtiari Alphabet” documentary at 7.30 PM in the Amphitheater at GW. The film follows the nomadic Bakhtiari tribe, located in southwestern Iran. The film is directed by filmmaker Reza Ghadiani and Professor Cima Sedigh. From the film’s press release:

“The Bakhtiari Alphabet” was created over the course of 7 years in the remote and mountainous regions of Iran, where the Bakhtiari live and migrate. Over that time, Dr. Sedigh lived with the nomadic tribe anywhere from a few weeks to a few months each year, studying their geography, history, economy, politics and culture. The film reveals both the struggle and humanity of this rapidly disappearing culture.

Admission is free. For more information on the event and to watch the trailer, please click here.

  • 19 January 2010
  • Posted By Darioush Azizi
  • 0 Comments
  • Culture, Events in Iran, Iranian Youth

Documentary on First Female Iranian Olympian to Premiere at Sundance

Munich, Germany – Fatima Geza Abdollahyan had just arrived back at her hotel in Amsterdam when she sat down to read her emails. After a long day at a documentary film festival, her tired eyes scanned the “Received From” column, finally coming to rest on “Sundance Festival 2010.” “Oh,” she thought to herself, “this must be the rejection letter.”

But Fate had a different plan in store for Fatima: “I read the first few lines, beginning with ‘We congratulate you…’ 3 times in a row – I could not believe that I was accepted!”

“Now, I need a drink,” she said.

Say No to Iranian Deportation Bill – Deadline Tomorrow

As you know, Congressman Gresham Barrett (R-SC) announced last week that he plans to introduce shameful legislation (the STEP Act) instituting the mass deportation of Iranians and blocking Iranians from visiting the US.

This bill would tear apart families and force all Iranians who have visas for work or school to be expelled from the country within 60 days of passage.

Thanks to many of you, over 2,000 letters have been signed calling on Congressman Barrett to abandon the STEP Act! But there’s still more work to be done to make sure this outrageous proposal does not go forward.

Tomorrow we will be delivering your messages in person to Congressman Barrett’s office in Washington DC.

The more letters we have to deliver, the bigger your voices will be—we want to make sure that Congressman Barrett gets the message, so we need a big push from you.

Now is the time to reach out to your friends and family to make sure they join the 2,000 people who have already signed their letter calling on Congressman Barrett to abandon the STEP Act. Everyone should be aware of this disgraceful proposal so that they can voice their opposition and stop the bill.

So please, forward this link to all of your friends and family and encourage them to sign our letter today so that tomorrow we can tell Rep. Barrett to stop the STEP Act!

  • 8 January 2010
  • Posted By Darioush Azizi
  • 2 Comments
  • Culture, Events in DC

Freer and Sackler Galleries’ 14th Annual Iranian Film Festival Debuts

In conjunction with the Falnama: The Book of Omens exhibit, the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Galleries’ 14th Annual Iranian Film Festival features five new films and a special presentation by Abbas Kiarostami. The film festival runs all month from January 8 to February 21 and is organized by Carter Long of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts with the support of ILEX Foundation: Olga M. Davidson and Niloofar Fotouhi.

Films include, Payman Haghani’s A Man Who Ate His Cherries, Kiarostami’s Taziyeh (The Spectators) and Shirin, Samira Makhmalbaf’s Two-Legged Horse, Niloofar and Shalizeh Arefpour’s Heiran. Film topics range from a story of a wealthy child with no legs and 12-year old girl’s quest for an education and an Iranian girl who falls in love with an Afghan refugee.

All films are in Persian with English subtitles. The festival recommends viewers to arrive at least an hour early; as there is high demand for tickets, assigned seating is in effect and tickets are distributed one hour before show-time with a two-ticket-per-person limit. For information on the film festival, please click here.

  • 8 January 2010
  • Posted By Nayda Lakelieh
  • 3 Comments
  • Congress, Culture, Iranian American Life

Khodahafez America?

This week Congressman Greshman Barrett announced that he would like to reintroduce the Stop Terrorists Entry Program (STEP) Act, originally introduced in 2003. STEP is an attempt to “step up” national security policies by amending our nation’s current immigration policies. Basically, the STEP ACT would prohibit the admission of aliens from countries deemed to be “State Sponsors of Terrorism,” including Iran.

The United States has come a long way since the days of the Mayflower — in both good ways and bad — but our nation was ultimately founded by immigrants; everyone has immigrant roots, including Congressman Barrett.

One could say to suddenly bar all Iranians seeking to come to the US could be seen as a eugenic measure of some sort, keeping out specific groups of “aliens” from US soil, and adhering to the bigoted idea that only specific ethnic groups belong within the US. It would also deport Iranians on student visas, temporary work visas, exchange visas, and even tourist visas within 60 days. This would mean that if the STEP Act were to pass, my Calculus tutor Bijan would be deported before we even take our final exams, simply for being here on a student visa.

The STEP Act doesn’t take into account that Bijan has only twenty more credits to complete his B.S. in Biology, simply focusing on the fact that he is Iranian.

Even those seeking emergency medical treatment, political, or religious asylum will only be granted entry after “extensive federal screening.”  Anyone who has experienced the “extensive federal screening” process knows how difficult it is.

If a law like this had been implemented ten, twenty, even thirty years ago many of us Iranian-Americans would not be here today. Many of the great contributions that Iranian Americans have made to the United States — in medicine, engineering, science, and academia — would not have occurred.

The US has tried rounding up people based on where they or their families were born — Japanese internment camps during WWII being the most poignant example — and there are even some pundits in Washington who still think it was a good idea.  But even in today’s frenzied political atmosphere where teabaggers set the bounds for discourse, this has to be crossing a line, right?

If you think so, check out what NIAC is doing on this.

Letter from a Tehran Jail

In the New York Times today, Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett–both of whom I deeply respect–argue that the protesters in Iran make up a small, demographically isolated minority of Iranian society, and their activities therefore have very little chance of enacting real, substantive change in Iran’s political system.  For evidence of the protest movement’s weakness, the authors pose three questions:

“First, what does this opposition want? Second, who leads it? Third, through what process will this opposition displace the government in Tehran?” 

Needless to say, none of the potential answers proves satisfactory.                                                                                                

The Leveretts are entitled to their opinion, sacrilegious as it may be to some.  But in downplaying and even denigrating the activities of Iran’s dissidents, I fear that they will have justified the accusations that are sure to be flung their way–accusations of acting as apologists for the government, of disparaging a courageous and non-violent protest movement, and even of siding with Iran’s violent regime. 

I am reminded of the Letter from a Birmingham Jailthe famous essay by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in which he decries the so-called “white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice,” more concerned with the negative peace of the status quo than with bringing about that which is right through urgent action.  By action, of course, Dr. King was talking about civil disobedience. 

Like the “white moderate” in King’s letter, the Leveretts do not dare pin their hopes on seismic changes righting Iran’s political injustices.  Instead, they recommend the US acknowledge the movement’s futility, embrace Iran’s current leaders, and secure America’s strategic interests through rapprochement.  But their cynicism, which dismisses a popular movement without a manifesto, charismatic leader, or strategic playbook, ignores the plain and simple fact that repressive governments are inherently unsustainable. 

People who have awoken to the dawn of a freer and more open society cannot be pushed backwards and kept permanently in darkness.  Like Dr. King, the Iranians who take part in the protest movement–even if they are a minority–engage in civil disobedience in order to “bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive” in their society.  Iranians have not always lived in fear of roaming militias or cyber-surveillance teams watching their every move online; nor have they been closed off to alternatives structures that value individual liberty over ideological fealty.

“Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever,” King said. 

The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained.

In the case of Iranians, the “something within” is the long and arduous journey toward a democratic system of governance–a journey that began with the Constitutional Revolution in 1906, caught a fleeting glimpse of success with Mohammad Mosaddeq in 1953, erupted chaotically in 1979, and has been brewing once again since June 12.  The “something without” is their forebears: Gandhi, Mandela, King, and Walesa.

I agree with the Leveretts’ conclusion that Iran’s government is not about to crumble under the pressure of the protest movement.  But I believe now more than ever before that democratic change in Iran is bound to occur eventually.  The events of the past seven months have revealed a conflict embedded deep within Iran that will not go away.  It might be suppressed for awhile, but it won’t be extinguished. The struggle for rights will continue, and, to paraphrase President Obama on the night of his election, the Iranian people will “put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.”

  • 23 December 2009
  • Posted By Bardia Mehrabian
  • 2 Comments
  • Culture, Diplomacy

The Deep South Thanks the Iranian People

The Deep South has found a partner to resolve its healthcare woes: Iran.

A recent Times Online article has discovered how local health officials, consultants, and doctors working in the Mississippi Delta region have partnered with Iranian health officials and strategists to address their financial woes and lacking healthcare system.

The grim reality facing local Delta residents include:

Some of the worst health statistics in the country, including infant mortality rates for non-whites at Third World levels…The southern state has the highest levels of child obesity, hypertension and teenage pregnancy in the US. More than 20% of its people have no health insurance.

James Miller – a consultant based in Mississippi brought in to advise a hospital facing financial difficulty – was shocked when he found out Mississippi had, “the third highest medical expenditure per capita, but came last in terms of outcome.”

When mapping out a strategy to turn around the state’s appalling results, Miller recalled a European health conference where Iranian health officials presented their revolutionary healthcare policy :

Facing shortages of money and trained doctors at the start of the Iran-Iraq war in 1980, the new government launched a system based on community ‘health houses’, each serving about 1,500 people.

Locals were trained as health workers known as behvarz, who would travel their area, dispensing advice about healthy eating, sanitation and contraception as well as monitoring blood pressure and conditions such as diabetes.

It was a stunning success, reducing child mortality rates by 69% and maternal mortality in rural areas from 300 per 100,000 births to 30. There are now 17,000 health houses in Iran, covering more than 90% of its rural population of 23m.

Miller, and a number of other healthcare advocates, embarked on a campaign to incorporate the Iranian “health houses” strategy into the Mississippi system by partnering with Iranian universities and health officials and winning over local residents. While the campaign to incorporate the system may be an uphill battle, its success can have far-reaching implications:

‘The Iranians are a proud people with 5,000 years of history and huge contributions to science and medicine,’ said a State Department official.

‘A project like the Mississippi one is incredibly powerful as it appeals to that Iranian concept of history. It’s a great way to keep the door open between the two countries.’

Paula Gutlove – deputy director of the Institute for Resource and Security Studies – points out similar meetings between American and Soviet scientists in the 1980s helped pave the way for the end of the cold war. “What we did in the 1980s created lasting relationships which cut across the divide,” she said.

‘It’s a win-win project,’ said Dr. Aaron Shirley, a leading health campaigner. ‘Not only do we finally have a way of addressing disparities in Mississippi, but also building relations between peoples.’”

  • 16 December 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 1 Comments
  • Culture, Diplomacy, Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran

The Case of Salar (Updated)

A little before 11am today, we received great news:

Salar had a second interview at the US Consulate in Dubai and his request for a visa was approved.

Salar’s mother had with her a letter from Stanford Children’s Hospital indicating that almost all of the money required for the operation and post-op care has been raised, which was a key factor for the interviewing officer.

Many of you who read about Salar’s case here had your own heartbreaking tale of a friend or loved one seeking a visa to come to the United States.  We can only hope that Salar’s case becomes a springboard for the US to review its visa regulations with an eye toward improving the process for Iranians in need.

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,

[signature]

Share this with your friends: