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  • 20 January 2010
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 3 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Iran Election 2009

A Day of Green Silence

The power of texting as a means of organizing the opposition was displayed during a popular sports show called Navad (Ninety) last week in Iran. Though the show mainly deals with analyzing and covering the Premier League and following the Iranian National soccer team, it has recently become very political.

As NBC rearranges talk shows due to economic reasons, IRIB has moved around the time slot for Navad because of political reasons. Adel Ferdosipour, a graduate from Sharif University, is the show’s host and has been critical to Navad’s rise in popularity. Though the government would probably prefer to cancel the show, they would run the risk of galvanizing the opposition, so they have moved the show back from its original time of 8:00pm to 11:00 pm.

Despite the move, viewers are still eagerly tuning in. Just last week, Ferdosipour asked his viewers to text their answer to the question, “What’s the reason for the Iranian national team’s latest losses?”

  1. The players
  2. The staff & coaches
  3. The departure of the Golden Players

The Golden Players means the old school players who led the team to the World Cup back in 2006. But more importantly it refers to players such as Ali Karimi and Mehdi Mahdavikia and two others who were kicked off the team and forced to retire after wearing green wrist bands in protest of the June Presidential elections.

The show was inundated with texts choosing #3 as they continued to received texts into the wee hours of the morning. The response echoes sentiments after Iran’s failure to qualify for the World Cup where many saw the team’s failure as a reflection of the Ahmadinejad –led government.

To keep up the momentum of the text-organizing, the latest Green Movement has called for a Sokoot-e-Sabz,  a  day of Green Silence, from 7 am to 8 pm. Though I initially asked myself, “what use is it to be quiet for 12 hours? Wouldn’t that be the opposite of civil disobedience?” But the opposition is using this lull in the protests to keep in touch with their base. It’s also an attack on media and cell phone companies who have been colluding with the government to monitor communications among the opposition.

As one young protesters told me, “It’s a small sacrifice and I hope my friends will notice and ask me ‘Hey, why was your phone off?’ and I’ll tell them, ‘Oh you didn’t hear, it was the Green Silence!’”

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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