The American Iranian Friendship Council (AIFC) was founded in April 2006 in Portland, Oregon. Several members of the Council come from a rich tradition of American / Iranian friendship because they served as Peace Corps volunteers, as medical workers or as English teachers in Iran. We believe they have an important story to tell, which can offer a different view than the demonization of people from the Middle East that dominates in the current US political climate and media. As a non-partisan organization, we seek to establish human connections and to educate about the complexities of Iranian history and contemporary realities, in order to avoid a military confrontation.
In July of 2006, we held a successful forum on Iran at Portland State University with local presenters. We then worked with Congressman Earl Blumenauer on a Congressional Resolution commemorating the hundredth anniversary of the Iranian Constitution, which was presented at Portland’s Iranian Festival in August of 2006.
On October 28, 2006, AIFC organized a well-received concert for peace, which united Turkish(Yeni Ses), Iraqi(Al-Haj), Iranian(Hossein Omoumi) and American Jewish musicians in an evening of modeling a world that could be. During the same weekend we presented another forum on Iran with speakers from across the United States such as Professor William Beeman, University of Minessota.
On March 21, 2007 the Portland City Council passed a resolution asking to support friendship between the people of the United States and Iran and opposing an escalation of war into Iran. The resolution was introduced by Commissioner Erik Sten and co-sponsored by Commissioner Randy Leonard at the initiative of AIFC. Portland was the second city in the US (after Berkeley, CA) to pass such a resolution. The resolution asks “to foster better understanding between the two nations and to embrace a spirit of diplomacy”, and states “that the City Council of Portland challenges the possibility of a new war in Iran, and urges the Congress of the United States to maintain pressure on the administration against both an escalation of troops within Iraq and a geographic expansion into Iran while continuing to call for a complete and immediate end to the war in the region;” and further indicates “that the City Council of Portland urges support for the Iran Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act of 2007 (H. R. 770), prohibiting the use of funds for “any covert action for the purpose of causing regime change in Iran or to carry out any military action against Iran in the absence of an imminent threat, in accordance with international law.”
Although there have been proclamations for Iranian New Year issued by mayors in the past, for the first time in Portland history NowRuz was acknowledged by Mayor Potter in a city hall ceremony at noon, after the council hearing on March 21st, 2007. The NowRuz ceremony included presentations by local Iranian musicians, Persian pastries and the traditional Iranian New Year’s display Haft Sin.
We continue to bring speakers on Iran to Portland, including University of Minnesota anthropologist William Beeman, author of the "Great Satan and Mad Mullahs", and Columbia University’s Iranian Studies professor Hamid Dabashi, author of the "Iran, a People Interrupted."
In Fall of 2007 AIFC organized a forum with Iranian former prisoner of conscience Ali Shakeri and journalist Reese Ehrlich, author of the "Iran Agenda."
In January of 2008, AIFC sponsored a talk by Scott Ritter, the UNSCOM weapons inspector and author of Target Iran, and Journalist Jeff Cohen.
In collaboration with the US Congressman Blumenauer, AIFC organized the "American Iranian Peace Forum" on February of 2008. The New York Times veteran reporter and author of the "All the Shah's Men", Stephen Kinzer was the keynote speaker of the Forum. In addition to a panel of the Portland American Iranian community members the Iranian arts, culture and cuisine were represented.
We regularly network with other organizations which do similar work in the United States and internationally and participate in local and regional peace mobilizations. Members of AIFC have been present in booths at events, have written letters to the editor and participated in congressional visits to Washington, DC.
Submitted by AIFC on Wed, 02/06/2008 - 4:07pm.