May 27, 2015
Joint Statement by: Aftab Committee * International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran * Iranian Alliances Across Borders * Iranian American Bar Association * National Iranian American Council * Pars Equality Center * Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans
As organizations that represent the Iranian-American community, we are deeply concerned by the sentiments expressed by Senator Lindsey Graham suggesting that all Iranians are “liars”. There is no place in our political discourse for such comments and we call on Graham to immediately retract his remarks and apologize.
Senator Graham’s comments are offensive to the Iranian-American community in the United States, as well as to members of the Iranian diaspora and the Iranian people. As a Senator who is running for our country’s highest office, Graham should know better than to engage in such offensive rhetoric against an entire group of people. The Senator’s criticisms toward the ongoing negotiations involving the U.S. and Iran are not an excuse to engage in outrageous stereotyping of Iranians and Iranian Americans.
The United States is home to the largest expatriate Iranian community in the world. Iranian Americans are among the most successful immigrant communities in the U.S., making significant contributions in business, technology, art, and education. Far from being “liars”, people of Iranian descent have won the Nobel Prize, been recognized for their scientific contributions, and headed some of the top tech companies in the world. The Iranian people’s history and culture is thousands of years old; Iranians developed the first declaration of human rights, have written some of the world’s great poetry and literature, and are heirs to one of the world’s first civilizations.
While the governments of the United States and Iran continue to have their differences, we must not allow political disputes to characterize the relations or sentiments between the people of the two countries. The rhetoric of some Iranian officials has invited condemnation and has justly been denounced. However, there has been a disturbing and dangerous pattern here in the U.S. of dehumanization of the Iranian people. Such efforts, and sentiments such as those expressed by Senator Graham, reveal a serious lack of understanding of the Iranian people and society.
Especially at this moment, in which there is hope for progress in the relations between the two country, it is critical that we look to build bridges instead of engaging in discriminatory tropes and hateful stereotypes. We hope that Senator Graham will address this issue and make clear that he does not believe that Iranians are liars, and we look forward to his response.
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