What’s in a Name?

This winter, Iranians around the world have been subject to a flurry of hysterical emails jamming the collective inbox. What is all the fuss about? Human rights abuses committed under the name of the Islamic Republic? Forfeited elections? America’s flirtation with unilateral invasion in the name of Freedom? Not so.

Instead, it’s an attack on our cultural heritage. It seems that the good, authoritative people at National Geographic magazine have decided to take it upon themselves to rename the Persian Gulf in their latest version of the world atlas. The oversized lake’s new name? Strike “Persian,” replace it with “Arabian,” and you’ve got it. For Iranians bent on distinguishing themselves from the Arab world — rather, Persians consumed by their civilizational import — the development is anathema. Nothing short of criminal.

Is this another attempt to appease angry Arabs? A mishap? Regardless of the reasons for the novel coinage, the mass mobilization it has inspired is undoubtedly the most massive since the buildup to the 1979 revolution. Perhaps it tells you something about what our priorities are.

Dear friends:

Apparently, the National Geographic’s latest World Atlas, one of the world’s leading publications in this topic, has misrepresented (mistake or by purpose?) “The Persian Gulf”. In its latest (Eighth) Edition the Persian Gulf has been introduced as Arabian Gulf!

1. Please read the details and review the United Nations documents.

2. It is very important that every single one of us provides feedback to National Geographic, since it is one of the most widely used publications in this field!

Please visit this site to express your objection. http://shop.nationalgeographic.com/custserv/customerservicemain.jsp?cid=7

For those of you who are very busy (like me), below is a sample letter that you can use. You can simply copy and paste this in the above website. It might take only 1 minute!

National Geographic

Dear Sir/Madam:

I find it highly offensive for your organization to change the historical name of Persian Gulf to Arabian Gulf.

World historical records abundantly make it clear that this body of water for many thousands of years has been called “The Persian Gulf ” that belongs to Iran (Persia). I strongly condemn this offensive and colossal mistake (or politically motivated action?) in your part to compromise a well known historical fact and Iran’s territorial integrity. Your actions, if not corrected, will be considered a total disregard to the history of the world, as well as international laws and regulations. This unjustified mistake can also be considered an act of hostility toward 70 million Persians/Iranians.