The National Iranian American Council recently conducted its annual Member survey to help establish NIAC’s priorities for the coming year. The 2010 NIAC Member Survey has a larger sample size than most standard scientific polls for populations of one million people. Nearly 500 NIAC members responded to the survey, both online and by mail between October 1st and 27th. While NIAC membership surveys are not scientific, past surveys have consistently corresponded to the views of the majority of Iranian Americans, as demonstrated by statistical surveys of the Iranian-American community conducted by universities and professional pollsters.
Overall, NIAC Members expressed support for the positions NIAC has taken and the work NIAC is currently doing. Indeed, the most consistent call for change came from a sizeable minority of members who said they would like to see NIAC do more in some areas. One of the key benefits of NIAC membership is the ability to help set the direction of the organization, and NIAC will seek to expand activities in the areas indicated by the Member survey, as resources permit.
Ranking Priorities: Across the board, survey respondents overwhelmingly viewed the issues NIAC works on as important—nearly every issue polled was designated as important by at least 90% of the respondents. NIAC Members on the whole continue to be characterized by deep concern for human rights; opposition to war and support for a peaceful settlement of US-Iran tensions; pride in their Iranian heritage and resistance to anti-Iranian discrimination; and opposed to sanctions that hurt the Iranian people.
Given the strong concern about so many issues, NIAC also asked its members to rank their priorities. On average, NIAC members made opposing war and finding a peaceful solution to the U.S.-Iran conflict their top priority. Supporting human rights in Iran and opposing broad sanctions were ranked a close second and third, respectively. Fighting discrimination against Iranian Americans was ranked fourth, and was followed by protecting the Persepolis Tablets and fixing the single-entry visa issue for Iranian students. However, it is worth noting again that at least 9 out of 10 members viewed NIAC’s work in each of these areas as important.
Preventing a US/Iran war: By every measure, preventing a US-Iran war and finding a peaceful solution to US-Iran tensions was rated the top priority for NIAC members. 91% of members said that preventing a US-Iran war and finding a peaceful solution to US-Iran tensions should be a “very important” priority for NIAC, with another 7% saying it is “somewhat important.” Only 0.2% of respondents did not support this position. 74% of respondents said NIAC “focuses on this issue about the right amount,” while another 11% said NIAC does not focus on this issue enough and 8% said NIAC focuses on this issue too much. As a result, NIAC will continue to make preventing a US-Iran war and finding a peaceful solution to US-Iran tensions its highest priority.
Supporting human rights: 81% of NIAC members said supporting human rights in Iran is a “very important” organizational goal, while 15% said it is “somewhat important.” A small minority of members (1.7%) voted against NIAC advocating on this issue.
27% of respondents said NIAC should focus on human rights more, while 57% said NIAC focuses on it the right amount and 5% said NIAC focuses on it too much. Therefore, NIAC will continue and expand its efforts in support of human rights in Iran and will vigorously pursue this mission in a way that is complementary with preventing a US-Iran war.
Sanctions: 79% of respondents said that opposing broad economic sanctions that indiscriminately punish innocent Iranians is a very important issue, with 16% rating it “somewhat important.” Only 0.6% of respondents opposed this position.
68% of respondents viewed imposing targeted measures punishing Iranian government officials who have committed human rights abuses as “very important,” in addition to another 20% who said it is “somewhat important.” Only 2.5% of members said they did not support this position. These results reaffirm NIAC’s existing mandate to oppose broad sanctions and support easing pressure on the Iranian people while simultaneously supporting targeted measures narrowly aimed at Iranian human rights abusers.
Opposing discrimination: In the year since our last survey, NIAC has confronted two major instances of anti-Iranian discrimination in the US. NIAC won key victories in both cases by successfully opposing the STEP Act and forcing two Fox sports anchors to make an on-air apology after they made bigoted remarks about an Iranian basketball player. Opposing discrimination against Iranian Americans was designated as “very important” by 82% of NIAC members. Another 15% said it is “somewhat important.” Given this strong result, NIAC will continue to place a high priority on opposing discriminatory legislation and fighting negative portrayals of Iranian Americans in the media.
Heritage: NIAC is proud to honor, celebrate, and protect the four thousand year old heritage of Iran on behalf of Iranian Americans. Our accomplishments have included delivering the first-ever Congressional recognition of Norooz, which passed both the House and the Senate. The Norooz resolution and other measures recognizing Iranian heritage are viewed as “very important” for 59% of survey respondents and “somewhat important” by another 32%.
NIAC also places a high priority on protecting the Persepolis Tablets – priceless artifacts hosted at American museums and universities that provide a unique first-hand account of life in the Persian Empire. Protecting the Persepolis Tablets and other Persian artifacts under threat was considered “very important” by 68% of respondents and “somewhat important” by another 26%. Going forward, NIAC will continue to work to protect the Persepolis Tablets and other Persian artifacts under threat so our heritage will never again come under attack.
Immigration: NIAC’s immigration agenda in the past year has focused primarily on fixing the Single-Entry Visa Policy for Iranian students. This issue is seen as “very important” by 60% respondents and “somewhat important” by another 35%. NIAC has also supported efforts to pass the Dream Act, which is viewed as “very important” by 42% of respondents and “somewhat important” by 33%. Given these results, addressing the single-entry visa issue will continue to be NIAC’s top immigration priority.
Thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s survey. NIAC will continue to seek feedback from its membership and the general Iranian-American community in order to continue to effectively advocate on its behalf.
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