The Iranian


email us



Sehaty Foreign Exchange


February 5, 2001

Anti-discrimination news

As a response to Mr. Guive Mirfendereski's two recent articles ["Power of one","Face in the mirror"] and his many letters against Persian Watch Cat (PWC) during the past several weeks and his defending Senator Dianne Feinstein in his letters and articles, a historical piece of news by Associated Press is presented for publication (see below).

This piece clearly indicates why Iranian Americans criticized Senator Feinstein, who, until today, has refused to apologize for calling thousands of Iranian students in the US "potential terrorists".

We hope that remains a productive and unbiased media for over one million Iranian Americans. Kindly consider this submission for publication as your second main article of the day, as was the case with Mr. Mirfendereski's previous articles in this regard.

PWC Public Relations

Iranian-Americans against Discriminatory Remark of Senator Feinstein

June 28, 1998, NEW YORK (AP) -- For the umpteenth time, Iran was under fire in Congress. Sen. Dianne Feinstein was leading the calls on this occasion, urging tighter background checks for students entering the United States from Iran and other hostile countries.

Her concern: American universities could be training potential terrorists. Feinstein's criticism of Iran was nothing new in Washington, but the response she received was.

Soon after her February testimony, she was contacted by a group of Iranian-Americans objecting to her comments. "We were severely insulted," said Dr. Kamiar Kallaantar, a San Francisco physician who says there has never been a terrorism case in the United States involving an Iranian student or immigrant.

Large numbers of Iranians began coming to the United States during the 1979 Islamic Revolution that drove the shah from power. But with U.S.-Iranian animosities seething _ Iranians held Americans hostage at the U.S.

Embassy in Tehran, Washington charged Iran supports terrorists, Iranian leaders tarred the United States as the decadent "great Satan"-few Iranians got involved in politics here.

Now, led by a savvy new generation and encouraged by the election of a moderate president in Iran, Iranian-Americans are increasingly urging the United States to make peace with their former homeland.

"To take political action is kind of a new frontier. I'm (just) worried we're too late," said Shahriar Afshar, president of the Iranian Trade Association, a group working to end U.S. sanctions on Iran.

In addition to lobbying members of Congress, Iranian-Americans are writing newspaper columns and cooperating with other interest groups to pursue their cause.

With about 1 million ethnic Iranians living in America, they are also considering endorsing candidates. Iranian-American activists interviewed for this story said they have no ties to any political faction in Iran.

But they clearly support Iranian President Mohammad Khatami's efforts to improve ties with the United States, despite hard-line opposition in his country. "It's a new era in Iran. Sure Khatami's got a difficult time. Now we want to help him," Afshar said.

More than half the Iranians living in the United States are in California, with large communities in New York and Texas, activists say. Most have kept a low profile. Some were hindered by language or cultural barriers.

Others feared retribution over Iran's alleged ties to terrorism and the hostage crisis. "Being an Iranian in the U.S. during the 1980s was not an easy time," Afshar said. "We were from a country that it was almost publicly acceptable to hate."

That appears to be changing with the generation of Iranian-Americans who grew up in the United States.

"These children are very interested in rediscovering their roots. They also have a sense on how things are done in the U.S. in a way their parents did not," said Gary Sick, a presidential adviser during the Iranian revolution and one of the Americans held hostage in Tehran.

Amir Zamaninia, a spokesman for Iran's U.N. mission, said his government has no ties with Iranian-American groups. He declined comment on their growing range of activities. Some U.S. corporations with interest in Iran are joining the lobbying effort.

The San Diego-based Iranian Trade Association has attracted more than 20 corporate sponsors to its campaign against sanctions, said Afshar, a 30-year-old former worker in that city's trade office. Among his sponsors is Conoco, which had a $1 billion oil-field project in Iran blocked by the U.S. government in 1995.

Gary Marfin, Conoco's manager for government affairs, said the company's alliance with Iranian-Americans is part of its general opposition to economic sanctions. "About the only impact sanctions do have is lost business and lost job opportunities in the U.S.," Marfin said.

Another group, Iranians for International Cooperation, seeks to promote dialogue, cultural exchanges and economic ties between Iran and America.

Trita Parsi, a graduate student who leads the group from Sweden, said opening Iran to the West will reduce tensions and ultimately help average people in impoverished Iran. Noting that most exiles still have family in Iran, he said ordinary Iranians want friendly ties with the West.

"Khatami has promised more personal freedom, the rule of law and better relations with Iran's neighbors and the West. We agree with these goals and want to do what we can to make their fulfillment possible," Parsi said.

Iranians for International Cooperation has also targeted perceived discrimination, meeting recently with Feinstein's office after the senator's call for tighter visa restrictions.

On the individual level, hundreds of Iranian-Americans have contacted members of Congress since Khatami's election, said Rep. Robert Ney, R-Ohio, who is a leading supporter of improving relations with Iran. "About 90 percent of these people ask us to please think about communication" with Iran, he said.


 MIS Internet Services

Web Site Design by
Multimedia Internet Services, Inc

 GPG Internet server

Internet server by
Global Publishing Group.