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Sehaty Foreign Exchange


December 14, 1999

Course of action

The matter of fingerprinting Iranians at U.S. airports has come up many times in the past, but it seems that this issue has not been fully appreciated by many Iranians. Sometime ago the well known Iranian film director Dariyoush Mehrjooi was fingerprinted. Mehrjooi is a former graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. A number of invited Iranian athletes were also fingerprinted. These two events and a few others have been publicized in the press, but routine fingerprinting of ordinary Iranian civilians have gone unnoticed.

This policy is a deliberate attempt by U.S. authorities to humiliate, insult, and degrade innocent Iranians and label them as terrorists. In fact it may be illegal within the U.S. on the grounds of discrimination. Remember, these are our relatives, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters who are coming to the U.S. to visit their loved ones, who are treated in this way. They have already been fully scrutinized when they applied for a U.S. visa and have passed all kinds of security checks before the approval of their visa application. Why are they being treated in this way? This treatment is outrageous and a violation of human rights.

Collective action aginst this law will most probably be very popular within the Iranian-American community and may help to mobilize silent onlookers within this community. It is reminiscent of the past discriminatory actions such collective internment of Japanese in World War II. The U.S. public, if properly informed will most probably raise their objection to this unjust practice. Thus, it is important to publicize these events and bring them to the attention of the U.S. public.

I suggest the following course of action:

1) Those members near international airports (New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, SanFrancisco, etc) must maintain a task force and be ready to be present at the airport and possibly photograph the act of fingerprinting of Iranians. Such photographs may also be solicited from those who go to the airport to receive their relatives. These photographs and the fingerprinting story may then be publicized in the local press. Anonimity may be maintained by usual journalistic tactics.

2) As I mentioned, the fingerprinting of Iranians may in fact contradict U.S. anti-discrimination laws. A class action suite may be filed. The question remains who should file this?

Other corses of action may be added to this list.

Jamshid Naghizadeh

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