How would a country continue to exist
without having the right to defend its heritage and territorial
February 11, 2005
For the past three months there have been a number of articles
written in response to the National Geographic's alteration
of the legally and historically recognized terminology of the body
of water known as the Persian Gulf as well as the islands of Kish
and Lavan (refer to the 2005 edition of Almanac of World History
and Atlas of the World).
It is worth noting that the national Geographic's e-mail
system became besieged by a flood of protest letters sent by both
Iranians and non-Iranians, who simply found the actions of that
organization inappropriate. In addition, a petition requesting
that the NGS make the proper corrections to its Almanac was prepared.
Thousands of concerned citizens signed this document, which proved
to be effective that resulted in appropriate changes by the NGS.
The collective defense of the Persian Gulf's heritage has
also sparked off a few articles by authors who not only criticized
these actions, but also accuse the parties of these actions as
being ultra-nationalistic. An example of this viewpoint is voiced
in the article entitled "The
gulf wars, what's in a
name" by Samira Mohyeddin.
It is difficult to comprehend why an individual would take issue
with a legitimate academic, legal and historical defense of a nation's
heritage. It would seem that Ms. Mohyeddin has failed to distinguish
between educated and peace-loving Iranians (and non-Iranians who
support their position) from a small number of fringe chauvinists,
who are to be found in any culture. These fanatics have begun the
game of changing historical facts for political and racist motives.
Defending the legitimacy and historical validity of an entity or
issue does certainly not make one a chauvinist. In that case, Jews
who defend the historical validity of the horrors of the Holocaust
are chauvinists, according to the logic postulated by Ms. Mohyeddin.
The theme of Ms. Mohyeddin's article fails to acknowledge
that the grass-roots protests from Iranians (and non-Iranians)
of all stripes were simply meant to redress a serious error; this
movement was void of any ill-intent nor was it directed against
any particular ethnic group. Simply put, the Iranians had no choice
but to defend their heritage.
It is interesting that Ms. Mohyeddin has chosen to shy away from
the geo-political motives and machinations of the term "Arabian
Gulf". Simply put, she does balance her arguments with the
possibility that the term "Arabian Gulf" may itself be
a fictitious and even racist term, void of legal and historical
legitimacy. Ms. Mohyeddin's accusations against Iranians
dangerously detract the reader from the main issues. The term (Arabian
Gulf) has its origins in pan-Arabism, Oil Imperialism as well as
economic considerations. [The reader may wish to consult
Ms. Mohyeddin refers to the Persian Gulf Organization (PGO) as
a self appointed task force and even accuses it of being anti-Arab.
First, the Persian Gulf Organization, is a Non-Governmental Organization
(NGO) which was created to defend the legacy of the "Persian
Gulf", an unalterable historical fact for more than two thousand
years. Second, NGOs are supposed to be self appointed. They are
created to fill in the shortcomings of their government.
subject of this case, the Islamic Republic so far has refused
to defend any aspects of Persia's (Iran's) ancient identity
as well as the Legacy of the Persian Gulf in the face of a select
number of Arabian fanatics that started the attempt of name change
four decades ago. It is significant that Ms. Mohyeddin has failed
to mention that many Arabs are opposed to altering the name of
the Persian Gulf. For the past few months, numerous e-mails have
been received from friendly Arabs of Persian Gulf countries in
support of the cause of the PGO.
Ms. Mohyeddin's article
is also an affront to those Arabs who work hard towards peace,
stability and fraternity in the region. Third, no anti-Arab references
or rhetoric of any nature are to be found on the website
of the Persian Gulf organization. It is not clear as to why Ms.
has chosen silence in the face of certain pan-Arabian chauvinists.
In the same, and as noted above, any action at defending
Persia's heritage is labeled as racist. In that case, any one who
any form of cultural appropriation is a racist. Ms. Mohyeddin's
arguments are evidently simplistic.
It is grossly unfair for Ms. Mohyeddin to question Iranian's
unity, resolve and track record at defending their human rights
in the face of the Islamic Republic regime. She basically states
that Iranians are quick to unite when faced with attacks against
their territorial integrity but lack the principles to stand up
for human rights. As before, these postulations are misinformed
For Ms. Mohyeddin's information, there are well over six
thousand active NGOs in Iran and several of them have dedicated
themselves to actively campaign for human rights within Iran and
question their regimes track record on human rights. Ms. Mohyeddin
is advised to read up on the current affairs and news of Iran's
to see how many people in the Islamic Republic are suffering in
prison as a result of their human rights activities. They certainly
have the support of human rights activists among us and all over
the world. We have always voiced our concerns and we will continue
to do so.
No nation or people has been able to disassociate itself from
their territorial integrity. How would a country continue to exist
without having the right to defend its heritage and territorial
integrity? Territorial integrity of a country in the face of foreign
conspiracies certainly has priority over internal affairs. In that
case, according to the logic postulated by Ms. Mohyeddin, the Russians,
French, Belgians, Dutch, British, Yugoslavs, Greeks, or Poles who
fought against Nazi territorial aggression and cultural appropriation
were being racist simply because they were trying to defend themselves.
In her last paragraph, Ms. Mohyeddin compares the heinous crimes
of the Islamic Republic against its own citizens with that of the
National Geographic's recent errors. This is analogous to
comparing oranges with apples. What is the relationship between
name alteration by a prestigious journal and the violation of human
rights by a Near eastern regime? This unclear comparison is made
in the context of her failure to explain as to why the protests
against name change shouldn't have taken place.
Geopolitical nomenclature is laden with latent motives and dangers
to peace. As soon as a name is changed, a certain "history" and "legitimacy" for
that name is concomitantly invented; truly a Trojan Horse in politics.
Has the bloody invasion of Mr. Saddam Hussein been forgotten? Pan-Arabist
ideology has long advocated name change for the Persian islands,
Iran's southwestern regions (Khuzistan) and the Persian Gulf
itself. Saddam Hussein fought for 8 years to achieve pan-Arab aspirations,
and failed. The Iranian men and women who resisted Mr. Saddam Hussein's
invasion were like the aforementioned Russians, French, Belgians,
Dutch, British, Yugoslavs, Greeks, or Poles, who simply fought
to maintain their legacy, territorial integrity, and human dignity.
There are still forces who hope to re-ignite the pan-Arab aspirations
of violent conquest. Ms. Samira Mohyeddin can be reassured of one
thing, despite her objections: Iranians will unite and defend their
territorial integrity and dignity, as they have for thousands of
years. If there is nothing in a name, then why does she fail to
examine and critique those parties who advocate the change of historical
Finally, Ms. Mohyeddin fails to balance her arguments by praising
the Iranians for respecting the names of other geographical entities
in the region such as the Shat al-Arab river, the Gulf of Oman,
and the Arabian Sea. The Iranians have certainly respected, and
will continue to respect the Arab legacy in those regions and as
Amir Naghshineh-Pour is an aerospace engineer living in San
Diego, California. He is active in the Persian Gulf Online "persiangulfonline.org",
Iran Heritage " iran-heritage.org",
and Iran Alliance "iranalliance.org" organizations.