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Cyrus meets Lincoln
Iranian-American runs for U.S. Senate

By S. Rob Sobhani
November 5, 1999
The Iranian

Twelve years ago on a crisp fall morning I entered the campaign offices of Connie Morella to volunteer my services. Connie, as she was called by everyone, was a Republican running for the U.S. Congress from heavily Democratic Montgomery County, Maryland. The opponent was a wealthy businessman who outspent us two-to-one. Well, she won and today I am proud to say that Congresswoman Morella is one of the most popular representatives in Congress.

When she asked me to work with her I did not hesitate and joined Connie's staff. Pretty soon I was handling veterans affairs, immigration matters and drug control policy. During my tenure, I was able to facilitate the entry of many Iranians into the United States. Bahai, Jewish, Muslim and Armenian families from Iran were given a new lease on life and to this date I am proud of the work we did.

Here I was, a descendant of Cyrus the Great in the land of Washington and Lincoln, making a difference. This experience got me interested in politics and the rest, as they say, is history.

Today I am campaigning to become the first U.S. Senator of Iranian descent (I was born in Kansas) because I truly believe that we, the descendants of Cyrus the Great, must join the children of Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln, to make a more perfect union. A union in which we care of those left behind, educate the uneducated, end prejudice and racism and protect our natural beauties.

I enter this very difficult task with a full understanding of who I am and what I wish to achieve. The great Persian poet Saadi defines best who I am:

Bani Adam aaza-e yek digarand
Keh dar aafarinesh ze yek goharand
To kaz mehnat-e digaran bi ghami
nashaayad keh namat nahand aadami

(Humans are parts of one body
They have been created from a single jem
If you do not care for others
You do not deserve to be called human)

This is my heritage and this is who I am.

As a United States Senator what I hope to achieve for Americans of Iranians descent is straighforward: end the demonizing and stereotyping of Iran and Iranians. In fact, my first act as an elected official will be demand a public apology from Senator Barbara Boxer (Democrat from California) for calling the Iranian nation "terrorist" in her interview with CNN last February.

Beyond this significant symbolic act, I hope to channel available federal funds to non-profit organizations in the United States dedicated to the preservation of our heritage. Also, and more to the point, I will work very hard to end the discrimination against Iranians who wish to visit the United States to see their relatives and loved-ones.

Running a campaign for the United States Senate is a very difficult task but one that is well within our reach if we stand united and help write history. So, please join me and let us make history not just be a witness to it.


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