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Iranian Americans tell Congress to prevent accidental war with Iran

waxman-meeting

Over at Peace Action West’s blog, Groundswell, our friend Rebecca recounts a couple of recent meetings with prominent members of Congress on the importance of an Incidents-at-Sea agreement with Iran.

Wednesday our stellar group of activists, including two Iranian-Americans and an American who had lived in Iran for 11 years, met with Rep. [Henry] Waxman. …We thanked Rep. Waxman for his strong voting record on our issues and for his efforts to raise concerns about a dangerous sanctions bill last year, and urged him to strongly support direct diplomacy with Iran without preconditions or a short timeline.

Did you know that it was this easy to meet with your member of Congress?  We at NIAC are looking for concerned members of the community to sit down with elected officials and tell them what’s on your mind.  Iranian Americans have a unique perspective, and members of the House of Representatives need to hear it.  How else will they know just how disastrous a war with Iran would be?  How else will they know the negative effect of thirty years of sanctions and isolation on the Iranian people?  How else will they know what you, their constituents, want?

If you want to see real change in Washington’s approach to our most important issues, get in touch with us here at NIAC and we’ll schedule a meeting for you with your member of Congress.  Just email Michelle at MMoghtader@Niacouncil.org and start getting involved!

For all the cynics, contacting your representative WORKS!

In an interview published last Monday, US Congressman Henry A. Waxman (D-CA30), whose district boasts a very large number of Iranian Americans, stated that he’s getting “mixed messages” from our community on how to deal with the Iran situation, but recent polling has shown that on the whole there is very minimal support for military action in the Iranian American community.

It is important for our community to recognize the power it does have in changing and influencing the opinions of their members of Congress. This interview is just the latest clear example that they are listening to us and making judgements, in part, based on our opinions.

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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