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On Google, Redrawn Maps, Borders, Separatism, and Unification!

By Ali Moayedian


Some Iranian MPs are upset at Google and claim Google has redrawn the map of Iran.


Iranians outraged after video posted to Google redraws map
A search engine was incorrectly blamed for the views of one of its users. A contributor to Google Video had placed the ancient city of Tabriz, the largest city in north-western Iran, in Azerbaijan. Google Video allows users to find and share online video footage, over which is does not exert editorial control. Google Maps show Tabriz to be in Iran. –Guardian, 11/14/06


Well, let’s see how that’s happened. A video about Tabriz has appeared on Google’s video section with the following description:


This video shows Tabriz, a major Azerbaijani city, in East Azerbaijan (Iran). Enjoy watching great architecture, people and Azeri dance that makes you to dance. :) Yasha Azerbaycan!


The posting of a video on an open web site can hardly be called redrawing the map of Iran! The Iranian MPs who are making a big noise with this claim are either ignorant of the facts or have other motives. They may be misguided because they may think Google approves of everything that’s published on their site, or perhaps they expect Google to censor the content so they can feel more at home surfing Google’s site! Or they may have other motives like making a big noise to gain fame. They certainly have received some attention by the report that went out on the wires. But before we all start banging on Google’s door asking for apology, let’s look at the facts.


The video itself is from an Iranian tourism agency, and ironically it is in Persian, the language that most probably the separatist who posted the video loves to hate J  So the video itself doesn’t do anything to promote the nationalistic causes of the poster. In fact it’s doing the opposite job since only the Persian speaking people can fully enjoy it; and they are probably thankful to the poster for sharing the video with them! It’s only the text that’s bothersome to some and insulting to others. I should add however that several copies of the video have been posted since then just so more nationalistic and even racist descriptions can be added. Here is an example:


Tabriz is the capital city of South Azerbaijan which is currently occupied by barbarian persians (Iranians). South Azerbaijan includes the ... all » northwest ... all » provinces of a fake country called Iran: East Azerbaijan, West Azerbaijan, Ardebil, Zanjan, and Markazi….


Clearly these people have enjoyed the attention they got with the first posting and are counting on more of the same with their new postings. Of course these are now considered spam and Google may take action to stop them.


But so what if this person or persons wish Tabriz to be part of Azerbaijan Republic? I on the other hand think Azerbaijan Republic should be reunited with Iran, since it was part of Iran until it was separated from her by Russia. I’m not saying this from a nationalistic point of view, rather from a historical one. It may even make sense since Azerbaijan Republic, with all the corruption that’s raging there, hasn’t gone far since gaining independence! So I don’t see a strong argument for inviting Iranians in Azerbaijan provinces to join the Republic. As bad as some people like to depict the situation in Iran, this is a move to worse not better. So perhaps the separatists should first focus on separating the corrupt from Azerbaijan Republic and enhancing the quality of life and democracy there before dreaming about expansion. Just a friendly advice!


Now personally I’m against all these nationalistic divisions or those based on religion, race, etc. I have even learned to appreciate other cultures especially the Azeri one, as my own wife is from Iran’s Azerbaijan. We’ve successfully bridged the gap between our cultures and have two sons, one with an Azeri name and the other with a Persian one borrowed from Shahnameh. The good thing is I don’t see any aspirations for ‘separation’ in my wife J  And I hope for the foreseeable future I’ll continue to appreciate the Azeri culture, that is my wife, including all the delicious Azeri dishes…


I also think most borders have lost their meaning or will and should, even though I should admit I have a fence around my house! Europe is a good example where the borders have fallen and major unification is in progress. Ok, it’s true US is suddenly paranoid about security and going the other way. And it’s true that Israel is erecting a wall casting their borders in cement. But overall the globalization is brining people closer together even if they live many borders apart. In relation to the region, the fall of the Soviet Union in particular erased the heavily fortified borders that had isolated the people living there from other nations including Iran. There is now close collaboration and cooperation on many fronts between the countries that were born out of this process including Azerbaijan Republic, Armenia, Turkmenistan,… with Iran. This includes people movements across the borders. This has certainly brought the people of these countries closer together and is a sign of healthy relationship and coexistence.


There is of course a lot of room for improvement. However, one of the biggest impediments to furthering this ‘unification’ is the extensive corruption that is prevalent in most of these countries which are still carrying their historical baggage from the communist era. Many times these corrupt forces act against this natural movement towards removing borders by instigating nationalistic sentiments for their own political and economic gains. With the eradication of corruption we can expect further blossoming of a borderless region where people can live and prosper together while enjoying the diversity of their cultures.


About the author: Ali Moayedian is an Iranian-American who lives in San Francisco Bay Area within the secure borders of the USA. He dreams of a borderless earth!


... Payvand News - 11/16/06 ... --

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