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Posts Tagged ‘ American public ’

  • 1 September 2010
  • Posted By Setareh Tabatabaie
  • discrimination

US Navy Sets an Example

With some in Congress openly advocating for the punishment of innocent Iranians and the drumbeat of war growing louder, it was especially refreshing to see the American sense of humanity still alive in a recent rescue operation by the US Navy.

On August 20, the US Navy rescued eight Iranian fishermen from a burning boat in the Arabian Sea.  The Iranians, who had abandoned their boat and were floating on a life raft in the middle of the sea, were picked up by two SH-60 helicopters from the Antisubmarine Squadron of the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group. They were then attended to by doctors and given food, water, fresh clothing, and temporary sleeping quarters until the Iranian authorities picked them up.

The New York Times article which reported on the US Navy rescue didn’t fail to note that “The United States and Iran have not had formal diplomatic relations since 1980.” As if diplomatic relations mattered to the fishermen who were floating on a life raft in the middle of the sea.

Fortunately our lack of diplomatic relations with Iran did not prevent the Navy from rescuing the stranded fishermen.  But for one reason or another, many Americans often do forget about the Iranian people or associate them with a government they do not have control over.

This can be seen almost everywhere.  In response to news of the Iranian Kish Airliner air crash in the UAE in February 2004, MSNBC Don Imus remarked, “When I hear stories like that, I think who cares.” In November 2009, Fox sportscasters made racially discriminatory remarks against Iranian NBA player Hamed Haddadi. Reuel Marc Gerecht, Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, claimed that Iranians “have terrorism in their DNA.” Even YouTube, usually a nonpolitical world community, got involved in politics and excluded Iranians from its recent experimental documentary Life in a Day.

This attitude is extremely disconcerting. Just as I would not want to be judged by US foreign policy, such as our handling of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, neither should Americans, and in particular policymakers, be so quick to associate the Iranian people with their government’s foreign policies. It is as if the 2009 post-election protests and crackdown, and the continuing government repression in Iran have already been forgotten.

As Sandy Tolan wrote, “If national interest comes before our common humanity, then there is no hope for redemption, there is no hope for healing, there is no hope for transformation, there is no hope for anything.” I hope Americans who have forgotten about this common humanity take cue from the US Navy rescue, and keep Tolan’s words in mind.

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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