A plea as "Shakespeare or Sheik Zubeir, the Persian Gulf or the [Arabian] Gulf"(FW)
ykeivany at GPU.SRV.UALBERTA.CA
Mon Jan 27 14:00:19 CST 1997
Biogeographers might find this useful.
* Mr. Yazdan Keivany * Phone: (403) 492-1298 *
* Department of Biological Sciences * (403) 437-3976 *
* University of Alberta *************************
* Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, T6G 2E9 * Fax: (403) 492-9234 *
* http://www.biology.ualberta.ca/Keivany/ykeivany.html *
I have prepared a plea as "Shakespeare or Sheik Zubeir, the Persian Gulf
or the [Arabian] Gulf" with support of many people who have signed it.
While this matter with regards to some racist-political Arabs' new efforts
to change this sacred name by bribing the Western media on the one hand
and the hypocritical stance of some Western journalists and publishers
(specially the English)in using "the Gulf" instead of "the Persian Gulf"
on the other hand, it is a moral duty of every person particularly
academics to speak up against such an uncivilized treatment. While this is
a two-edged sword we expect all of you to sign up the plea as a moral
Please take the following notes into account:
1- This plea has been prepared very carefully in order not to offend any
nation or group.
2- Any suggestion is appreciated and carefully considered(through my
3- Name and nationality is appreciated(But not essential)
4- A copy of this letter will go to the UN Secretariat, and the relevant
publishers, newspapers and possibly BBC and Reuters.
5- A short statement in effect of your support is sufficient, such as I
support the plea.
6- If you are a member of another listserver PLEASE forward it to that
listserver for signature, even if you do not wish to sign it.
7- Any support must come to my e-mail Address: M.R.Pasban at sheffield.ac.uk
Shakespeare or Sheik Zubeir, the Persian Gulf or the [Arabian] Gulf
Unlike the rest of the world (except some Arabs), there has been an
obvious and deliberate stand by the British media, businessmen, some of
publishers as well as political circles in applying the ambiguous and
incomprehensive name "the Gulf" for the "Persian Gulf". This hypocritical
stand seems to be mainly based on the British commercial considerations
with some Arabs rather than any doubt over the correctness of the name
Before referring to the historical background, the current factual
situation of the strategically vital role of Iran as the largest and most
populated country of the region, international community's recognition of
the Persian Gulf as the only appropriate name including some directives
issued by the UN, we would like to attract your attention to the very fact
that such improper attitude by those British sectors which now has sadly
found its way into the sacred academic range is a two- edged sword can be
used by any nation or group, depending on the motives behind such action.
The invention of "the Gulf" and Arabian Gulf since 1958 is as baseless as
the claim of some Arabs including Colonel Qadhafi of Libya who repeatedly
claims that Shakespeare is Sheik Zubeir and an Arab by origin!!!
1- Historically, until 1958 when General Qasem, the former dictator of
Iraq, for the first time in the history of mankind invented the term
"Arabian Gulf", the whole world was not familiar with any name referring
to the region concerned but "the Persian Gulf". Even, along with Arab
commentators and academics, the Arab league's first deputy Dr. Mohammed
Nofel and the Egyptian representative in the human rights conference in
Tehran in 1968 rejected and teased the idea where he stated: "I ridicule
and condemn all the efforts undertaken for the changing of the name of the
Persian Gulf to the Arabian Gulf and I believe these attempts are futile".
The incentive behind General Qasem's move was a result of his ambition
that he was the right leader for the Arabs at the time rather than Jamal
Abdul Naser of Egypt, and to attract the Arabs' attention from Cairo to
Baghdad. The Times (of London) was the first western newspaper which in
1962, in a report of Naser's activities, followed the former dictator of
Baghdad! by calling the Persian Gulf as the Arabian Gulf. Surprisingly,
the same newspaper in 26 September 1968 hoped that the Arabs would
restrain using any name but the Persian Gulf by following the example of
the Arab historian, Ali Homaidan, who in his well- known book "Les Princes
de L'Or Moir" (Paris 1968) employed the term "the Persian Gulf". The
Egyptian pan-Arabist leader, Naser, who was not prepared to lose any point
to his Iraqi rival which would prejudice his leadership among the Arabs,
began employing the baseless name of the Arabian Gulf instead of the
Persian Gulf, as if he had forgotten that he was the one who used to
describe the Arab world geographically "from the Atlantic Ocean to the
Persian Gulf" particularly in his book "al-Davat Thahririat al-KobrA" -A
Great Call for Freedom (Cairo: 1955).
The name of the Persian Gulf is as old as the written history of mankind.
In the ancient time before the birth of Christ, the Greek historians and
geographers employed the term "Sinus Persicus" meaning "Persian Gulf",
while Romans used Mare Persicum" for the same purpose and meaning. (P.
Mojtahed-Zadeh, "the Name of the Persian Gulf in the History", Ettalaat
Siasi-Eghtesadi (1996) No 105-6 p. 20(Tehran).
Likewise, there had been an unanimity among the Arab geographers who
always described the region as "Bahr al-Farsi" (Persian Sea) or "Khalij
al-Farsi" ( the Persian Gulf). For example Ibn Hoql al-Nasibi al-Baghdadi
in "Thorat al-Arz" (written in 367 Hejri, 1043 years ago, edited and
published in 1938, London at 244), al-Bostani in "Daerat al-maaref
al-Bostani (Beirut: 1882 7th V. at 457), Sharif al Edrisi in " Nozhat al-
Moshtagh", Yaqoot-ibn Homavi Romi in "Mojam al-BoldAn"(ed. Cairo: 1906 2d
V. at 68), Shams al-din Demashqi in "Nokhbat al-Dahr" (Written in about
660 years ago edited and published in Lipzic: 1923) Abu Bakr ibn-Mohammad
(ibn- Faqih), "Mokhtasar al-BoldAn" ( Liden: 1885 at 9), and more recently
Georgi Zeidan, "The History of Islamic Civilisation" (Cairo: 1935 2d V. at
43), Ali Homaidan, "Les Princes de L'Or Moir" (Paris 1968) and all other
Arab and Muslim historians and geographers of pre- 1962 history have
rightly used the name "the Persian Gulf".
We would also like to attract your attention to numerous British documents
including the British Atlas as an submitted authority.
2- Internationally, The United Nations in several occasions has issued
directives confirming that the official name of this sea is "the Persian
Gulf". For example on 5 March 1971(Ref: AD 311/1 GEN), the secretariat of
the United Nations in response to the objection of the Permanent Mission
of Iran to the use of the term "the Arab Gulf Emirates"!!! in a document
of the UN Industrial Development Organization stated: "It is the practice
of the United Nations Secretariat to use in United Nations documents and
maps the term "Persian Gulf" to indicate the body of water between Iran to
the north and east and a number of other countries to the south and west.
In doing so, the United Nations Secretariat has confirmed to a long
established usage followed by publishers of atlases and geographical
More recently in 10 Jan. 1991 (Ref.: ST/CS/SER. A/29), again the UN
Secretariat issued a directive entitled as "USE OF THE TERMS "PERSIAN GULF
AND SHAT AL- ARAB" (the latter is a river between Iran- Iraq), stated:
"The term "Persian Gulf" is used in documents, publications and statements
emanating from the Secretariat as the geographical standard designation
for the body of water lying between the Arabic Peninsula and the Islamic
Republic of Iran, thus following longstanding conventional practice."
It is sad to see the British media, and some political circles, as a
country which enjoys permanent membership of the UN Security Council and
is supposed to respect its directives, trades in the truth, morality,
accurateness and its own dignity for the pleasure of some racist Sheiks
and dictators. It is more hurting to see Mr. John Major the executive head
of the UK government who is supposed to speak accurately particularly
before the UK Parliament, refers to the "Persian Gulf" as "the Gulf".
3- Logically, if any nation, king, sheik, president, publisher, or
academic figure is allowed to call their coastal waters based on their own
personal-racial fancies, the confusion arising from it will justify to
call the English Channel as "Le Manch" or "French Channel" and together
with the "Persian Gulf" we will have "Arabian Gulf", "Arab Gulf Emirates",
may be later the Gulf of Saudi Arabia, and instead of "the Oman Sea" we
should recognize "the Iran or Persia Sea", "Bushehr sea", Tehran Sea".
Obviously the Iranians will also prefer to call the "Gulf of Oman" as the
Gulf of Bandar Abbas", or the "Gulf of Hormozgan". The Pakistanis also may
move to call the Indian Ocean as "the Pakistani Ocean" or "Karachi Ocean".
For the same reason it is unfair not to allow the Cubans to call the Gulf
of Mexico as the Gulf of Cuba, and so on. Clearly such a confusing and
unjustifiable attitude will cause serious international crisis, which you
confirm it as uncivilized. As was mentioned, the deliberate stand of
English media and some certain publishers in calling the region as "the
Gulf" has very sadly found its way into the academic forums, an occurrence
which requires a serious reconsideration.
It is not justifiable to call the UK as "the country", or "Red Sea" as the
"sea", the same reasoning is applicable in the case of "the Persian Gulf".
Receiving some donations by a British or Western University from a rich
Arab Prince or sheik should not shield them from their academic
responsibility. Concluding some arms sales with an Arab sheikdom in the
region is a different matter from calling a historically-internationally
recognized name correctly. We would like to emphasis that using any name
other than the Persian Gulf for the region concerned is no less than moral
bankruptcy. This matter is increasingly becoming a serious issue for all
Iranians-Persians as well as others who view such attitude as trading at
others' historical heritage, and a sort of auction of morality and dignity
of human kind.
This very fact must be taken into account that the ancient and
long-lasting Persian civilization that has served human kind in
scientific-cultural aspects with thousands years of recorded history, is a
bright part of history of mankind but not history of oil to be vanished by
the collapse of the oil-wells. In conclusion, we urge all academics,
publishers, journalists and writers to restrain from using any name for
the "Persian Gulf" other than the right and correct one, "the Persian
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