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  • 10 August 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 0 Comments
  • Culture, Events in Iran, Iran Election 2009, Iranian Youth

Green Ramadan?

This is a message that came to us from an Iranian student, looking toward the upcoming month of Ramadan with unease about the possibility of further clashes with security forces:

In less than two weeks we will have Ramadan. It is the best month of the year for Iranians to fast and pray. But this year’s Ramadan is different from the last ones. People who are still chanting Allah Akbar (God is Great) to show their frustration and anger with the 2009 election result and state violence against peaceful protests, are looking to actively participate in group prayers and  religious ceremonies in the Mosques during Ramadan. They will continue their peaceful protest against the state’s violence while exercising traditional and religious practices.

During daytime in Ramadan, all restaurants are closed and eating and drinking publicly is banned based on the Islamic law. But after breaking fast (Maghreb), people pour into the streets to enjoy the cool and busy nights, as well as to say their prayers in Mosques and recite verses from the Qur’an. These nights are the best time for people to gather together, mingle, and share their thoughts. People usually stay awake late and go to work late in the morning since Iran’s government reduces the work hours during Ramadan every year. Iranian Shiites also mourn the commemoration of martyrdom of Imam Ali (PBUH) and pray during Ghadr Nights (19th, 21st, and 23rd and in some narratives 27th and 29th of Ramadan) when they believe the Qur’an was revealed to their prophet Mohammad (PBUH) by Allah. Many Iranians spend the entire night awake on these days in Mosques and holy shrines.

After the disputed 12 June election in Iran, the government has been forceful in preventing people from gathering, but during Ramadan it will not be able to ban people from celebrating this holy month by taking part in public gatherings. If the government were to do this, that would go directly against every previous year’s precedent in which they officially encouraged people to actively participate in religious celebrations.

This Ramadan is also different because Iran has recently banned Iranians from performing the Umra in Saudi Arabia during the holy month of Ramadan to slow the spread of swine flu in the country. The Umra can be performed at any time but is popular during Ramadan in which thousands of Iranians travel to Saudi Arabia for at least two weeks of pilgrimage.

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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