As you were informed in April, I took a leave from the AIC to work on my campaign for President of Iran this May. I was successful in officially registering my candidacy with the Interior Ministry but did not receive approval from the Guardian Council to stand for the vote. I believe if I had been given that chance, I would have won the election. I take this opportunity to congratulate President Hassan Rouhani for winning a second term.
During my absence, Mr. Michael Caridi, my great friend and a Board Member of the Council, served as Acting President. Now that I am back, he wishes me to return to the job and I am accepting his kind request. I remain deeply appreciative of Michael’s hard and strategic work during my absence. This transition has the approval of our Chairman, Senator J. Bennett Johnston.
The American Iranian Council joins the global community in strongly condemning the horrifying terrorist attacks perpetrated today in Tehran at the Parliament building and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini. The AIC also sends its deepest condolences and sympathies to the families and loved ones of those who died or were injured in the attacks.
We appreciate the fact that the US State Department has joined in condemning these murderous acts and has expressed sympathies for the Iranian people. During this difficult time, we also urge the government of Iran to be patient and perform a careful review of the evidence before making unproductive accusations against other countries in the region. Daesh has claimed responsibility for the attacks in Tehran, and the focus now should be on countering these radical extremists and on improving the safety and security of the Iranian people.
I am excited to announce that AIC is partnering with the award-winning educational non-profit, ProjectExplorer.org, to send a small film crew to Iran in Spring 2018 to produce a series of short, high-quality, educational videos about everyday life in Iran.
These videos will be distributed free of charge to classrooms and educators in the US and around the world so that students can learn about Iran as part of their standard curriculum. ProjectExplorer.org content currently reaches over 6 million students (ages 8-18) annually. Additionally, we plan to share the Iran Series widely on social media and with a major television broadcast partner that has millions of viewers.
Dr. Rouhani has won a second term in the 2017 Presidential Election in Iran. Nearly 70% of Iranian voters turned out on May 19 to cast their ballots for the next President. Vote tallies placed incumbent President Hassan Rouhani as the winner with 23 million votes, overshadowing the runner-up, Mr. Ebrahim Raisi who received 15.7 million. With the support of 57% of voters, President Rouhani will have a strong mandate to continue his moderate policies and outreach to the West.
The American Iranian Council congratulates President Rouhani on his victory, wishes him luck in his second term, and hopes that he will be able to effectively lead the country towards prosperity in this turbulent time. President Rouhani must now move beyond the competition and become the President for all Iranians, defending their rights and solving their problems. We also urge his competitors in this election to accept the result and cooperate with President Rouhani towards a better Iran.
In the wake of the Trump administration's travel ban, many people asked themselves what they could do to help. One such person is the talented graphic designer, Kristina Filler, who contacted AIC and offered to create a "Heart Iran" pin so that Americans could show their support for the Iranian people.
The design of the pin - fittingly about the size of a flag pin at 3/4" wide - was partially inspired by the social media hashtag #lovebeyondflags that has gained popularity among Americans and Iranians alike. The hashtag has been used to emphasize shared experiences, promote dialogue, and express hope for improved relations.
I am writing to inform you that I will be taking a temporary leave of absence as President of the American Iranian Council during the period of the Presidential election in Iran. As many of you are aware, I have previously run for President of Iran. This year, I have again announced my candidacy:
My leave will begin on April 10 and last at least through the Presidential election season. The American Iranian Council is proud to be a non-partisan organization with nearly three decades of achievement in US-Iran relations. My leave will ensure that the organization remains non-partisan and that there is no conflict of interest or association between my political activities and statements and those of the organization.
On behalf of everyone here at the American Iranian Council, we wish you a warm Nowruz greetings! Nowruz is the first day of spring and also the first day of the new Iranian calendar year, which will be 1396 on March 21 (2017). Nowruz has been celebrated for over 3000 years, and Iranians of all religious and ethnic orientations share in the joys and prosperity it promises. We sincerely hope that this Nowruz will usher in better US-Iran relations.
The closure of 1395 was admittedly a rocky period in US-Iran relations, with increased rhetoric on both sides, the imposition of a blanket travel ban on Iranians, ballistic missile testing by the Iranian government, and the new Trump administration putting Iran “on notice.” Of course, rocky times are not new. As a long-standing organization with nearly three decades of experience in this field, we recognize that US-Iran relations have always been challenging. And yet, with time and effort, real progress has been made in the past and can be made moving forward.
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Open Letter to the People of Iran:
We, the American People who disavow President Trump’s executive order denying you entry into our country, are writing to say that we stand with you.
We, who oppose this order, are American citizens of all backgrounds, races, religions and creeds. We are old and young, rich and poor, and work in all professions. We are government officials who are refusing to implement this order. We are lawyers who are contesting this order in court. We are journalists who are sharing the stories of those affected. We are ordinary citizens protesting on the streets. We are Americans who believe in democracy and the values enshrined in our Constitution, and we stand with you.
President Donald Trump is expected to issue an executive order this week banning immigration to the US from Iran and six other Muslim-majority countries. The American Iranian Council considers this order as inappropriate and ineffective in the fight against terror. It is only unfortunate that a very small minority among the 1.5 billion Muslims in the world should be engaged in terrorism, giving Islam a tarnished name. While we must protect our people and the Council is fully for acts that improve our national security, we believe targeting entire countries for the action of a few is unjust and counterproductive to U.S. interests and the “America First” directive of the new administration.
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a cleric who served as president of Iran from 1989 to 1997, died on January 8, 2017, at age 82, in a hospital in northern Tehran after suffering a heart attack. A US State Department official described Rafsanjani as a "prominent figure" and said in a statement, "We send our condolences to his family and loved ones."
Rafsanjani was a towering figure in Iranian post-revolutionary politics. In addition to serving as the Islamic Republic’s president, he was a former speaker of the Parliament, chairman of the Assembly of Experts, chairman of the Expediency Council, and head of Iran’s military forces during the Iran-Iraq war.