Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Iran and Google Earth: Arab or Persian Gulf?

In President Bush’s last speech on Iraq, Iran was a big part.

In the Arab world- Iran is an item on the top of the public and government agendas.
In an interview with a Saudi newspaper, the pro-West Prime Minister of Lebanon, the courageous and honorable Mr. Fouad Saniora said that Iran should stay away from Arab issues. Well stated.

In an article in the Al Arabiya news site about the reaction of Iran to Google Earth’s naming the “Persian Gulf” the Arab Gulf ( http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2008/04/16/48377.html) the Iranians got mighty angry at the perceived slight and they threatened legal action since the naming of the Gulf “Arab” is nothing but a “crime” as one official stated!

This new item generated 490 responses. Almost all very harsh on Iran. Common themes:

“Iran was defeated by the Iraqis in the 8 year war.
There are Arabs on both sides of the Gulf- the residents of the Iranian side are ethnic Arabs. The Persians are historically mountain people and not sea people.
Iran is like Israel- trying to resurrect its empire in the Arab world.
There are more Arab states on the Gulf- therefore it’s the Arab Gulf.
We should call it neither Arab nor Persian- let’s call it Islamic [Iran refused this offer at one Muslim League meeting]
Iran is not a Muslim county. It is an enemy of Islam. The Iranians worship fire. They should thank the Arabs who led them to worship God.
Iran is the enemy of Islam. Hope the US attacks them and nukes them.
The Iranian language has many Arab words and its people have many Arab names. Why the sensitivity to the word Arab in Arab Gulf?”

Obviously-

The Iranians are antagonizing the Arabs by their policies.
Overwelmingly- if the commenters reflect wider public opinion-there is no love for them.
I remember in high school in the 80s one of my classmates was excited about Iran. He is a Sayed, a descendant of the Prophet’s family. He was so excited about Iran that he was studying Persian, hoping for a victory of Iran over Iraq, and claiming that he is actually of Iranian and not Arab origin [God forbid]! The Prophet himself was Arab and if he is a descendant he should be Arab too.

The response of Iran to Google Earth reminded me of Persian Pilgrimages: Journey Across Iran, a book by Iranian American Afshin Molavi. He wrote that the Iranians- even in the Islamic Republic he visited- have an inferiority complex toward the West and a superiority complex toward the Arab.

I remember also hearing from the fans of Iran frequently that Saudi Arabia is “the holiest ground, the worst people.” It’s odd but the Prophet himself hailed from modern day Saudi Arabia? And what the Shia Muslims call “Ahl Al Bayt” also came from there! What does that say of them!
This is not good Iranian influence.

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