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Open Letter to Apple's CEO Demanding End to Discriminatory Policies

NIAC President Trita Parsi's letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook urging Apple to take immediate steps to end discriminatory practices against Iranian Americans and Iranian visa holders in the United States.

Dear Mr. Cook,

The Iranian-American community is deeply concerned and outraged that Apple employees at different Apple Stores have repeatedly refused to sell products to customers solely on the basis of their Persian ethnicity.  As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) strongly urges Apple to make clear that such actions are inconsistent with Apple’s policies and values. We further call on Apple to take immediate steps to improve the training of its Apple Store employees to ensure such discrimination does not continue to take place.

Although we believe that providing the Iranian people with communication tools facilitates the free flow of information and ultimately furthers the cause of democracy in Iran, we recognize Apple must strictly adhere to U.S. sanctions laws that prevent it from selling its products in Iran or to people who intend to send those products to Iran.  However, U.S. sanctions laws do not prohibit the sale of products to Iranian Americans or Iranian visa-holders in the United States. 

Yet, multiple Apple Stores have refused service to both American citizens and Iranian students legally residing in the United States solely on the basis of their ethnicity.  In particular, Apple Stores at North Point Mall in Alpharetta, Georgia and at Perimeter Mall in Atlanta, Georgia have been implicated in this practice. 

When Apple employees deny service to potential customers solely on the basis of the language they speak or the country in which they were born, that is racial profiling and illegal discrimination that must stop.

By denying service to Iranian American and Iranian customers seeking to purchase its products for legal purposes on the basis of ethnicity, Apple is harming both its corporate reputation and deeply insulting and hurting the Iranian-American community.

We strongly urge Apple to take immediate steps to address this gross misapplication of sanctions law and stand ready to work with Apple to ensure that no more Iranian Americans or Iranians are the victims of discrimination in the future.

Sincerely,

Trita Parsi, PhD
President

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