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  • 16 December 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 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.

  • 14 December 2009
  • Posted By Lloyd Chebaclo
  • Events in Iran, Iranian Youth

The Case of Salar

Salar Sohrabi is a 14-year-old boy who lives in Iran. He suffers from a severe form of Scoliosis, a progressive spinal deformity that requires immediate surgery, and Marfan Syndrome, a connective tissue disorder. Doctors and medical facilities in Iran are refusing to perform the necessary, life-saving surgery on Salar because of “their inability to handle possible complications he might face,” according to Born in the town of Karaj, Iran, Salar was diagnosed with Scoliosis at the age of five, making his young life difficult. While he has not been one to complain about his condition, his mother could “feel his sadness in his heart.”

“She noticed Salar often had been teased at school due to his physical appearance. Which added to their suffering even more. Salar’s only complaint was having severe back pain, which is a result of this type of illness.

Recently Salar’s mom took a leave of absence after 20 years of service to spend more time with him. She almost spends her entire $600 monthly salary on physical therapy, medical tests, and doctor’s visits etc. for Salar.”

Salar’s life has been surrounded by extremely painful events. In addition to the loss of his father, Salar was six years old when his paternal grandfather died. Subsequently, Salar also lost his maternal grandmother. Those two individuals were the closest supporters he had. Obviously, these losses have been very devastating events in his young life, but there is something that keeps Salar’s hope alive and whatever this thing might be, we are asking those of you who have been touched by his story to make his hope a reality.

Like any other kid of his age, Salar wants to be able to play his favorite sport, basketball, and hopefully someday become an Electronic Engineer. Please see how you can help…”

Salar’s family has been able to raise the funds necessary for him to receive treatment at Stanford Medical Center, thanks to generous private donations.  Stanford already has agreed to treat Salar in January 2010 at a significantly lower cost than the expensive procedure requires. Salar and his mother’s visas have, however, been denied.

Their nonimmigrant visas were denied because “the applicant did not demonstrate strong ties outside the United States and was not able to demonstrate that his/her intended activities in the U.S. would be consistent with the visa status.”

According to Dr. Ivan Cheng of the Stanford Medical Center upon reviewing Salar’s medical file:

“He is at very high risk for further curve progression and further deterioration of his lung function.  Ultimately, he will probably have a significantly shorter lifespan without surgery.”

It’s sad that this young boy’s family managed to beat the odds and get everything lined up for this critical operation, only to have his visa request denied. The State Department should take another look at this case.

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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