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US Iranian group speaks out over Apple Store discrimination

updated 11:10 am EDT, Thu July 12, 2012

Says Georgia incident not isolated

The policy director for the National Iranian American Council, Jamal Abdi, is speaking out on the subject of discrimination against Iranians at Apple Stores. Writing in the New York Times, Abdi claims that an incident at an outlet in Georgia was not isolated. "Imagine if your ethnicity determined which products you were able to buy. Or if sales clerks required you to divulge your ancestry before swiping your credit card. Some of us don't have to imagine," he comments.

Another incident is said to have taken place at an Apple Store in Santa Monica, California, where two friends hoping to buy an iPhone were allegedly asked by an Apple clerk if they were speaking "Persian" and then told "I am sorry, we don't sell to Persians." In Sacramento, one Iranian-American said to have been looking to buy for himself mentioned that he was also considering buying an iPod for a nephew in Iran, but was suddenly told he couldn't buy anything, for himself or his nephew. A second Georgian case reportedly involved an Iranian student in Atlanta and his Iranian-American friend, who were blocked from buying an iPhone because during questioning by a clerk, the friend mentioned that the student was going back to Iran for the summer.

Abdi suggests that Apple workers are being forced to "interpret and implement federal policy" banning certain electronics from going to Iran, but with the consequence of racial profiling. He argues that the US Congress and President Obama need to deal with the consequences of increased sanctions, or else continue risking the "values and basic civil liberties of some American citizens."

by MacNN Staff




  1. wisebabo

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 08-07-10

    Oh c'mon. From what I understand (from a discussion on Slashdot a while ago), the staffer at the Apple store who brought this up was, himself, Iranian. (That's how he could understand the conversation, in Persian, amongst the people who were purchasing the iPad).

    Of course, that fact by itself shouldn't make a difference but he overheard the msaying that they were purchasing it SPECIFICALLY TO SEND TO (their relatives) in IRAN (which is prohibited by U.S. law). When he got the manager involved and again asked them their intent they confirmed (I presume in English) that they were going to send it to Iran (thus breaking the law).

    So what is this guy (and Apple) supposed to do? Deny them the sale and cause a charge of being discriminated against (note by a fellow Persian) or allow the sale despite their avowed desire to contravene export regulations and potentially involve Apple in a crime? While I agree it is stupid to put Apple (and other retailers) at the front lines in this international dispute, to call Apple "discriminatory" as the editorial in the NYTimes implies, ignores the facts of the case.

    I wanted to post this on the NYTimes web site but they are not allowing comments on this piece.

  1. wisebabo

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 08-07-10

    Great, my first post, less than 2minutes old and now I have to correct myself.
    Upon closer reading of the NYTimes article, it appears that in the incident I mentioned, the person purchasing the iPad WASN'T going to send it to Iran but rather to a cousin in the states (evidently the Wall Street Journal spread the erroneous story). So, yes, the apple store staff was wrong to deny the sale. Anyway, I was too hasty in defending my beloved Apple and the person writing the editorial has a good point that retailers are asked to pursue two different policies (being non-discriminatory and not allowing certain goods to be sent out of the country). My only defense for my hasty actions is that while the writer, towards the end of his article says "Apple has not been taken over by xenophobes" in many other places implies that it has; in fact the my browser shows the title of the article "Why is Apple Discriminating Against Iranian-Americans?". So go figure.

  1. Geoduck

    Junior Member

    Joined: 01-14-10

    They should look on the bright side. Here in Canada Iranians are getting their bank accounts closed
    We're not far from Internment Camps.

  1. UmarOMC

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 08-09-01

    Banks in the States have been closing accounts of people and businesses for a long time now.

    I read George Orwell's 1984. I didn't know he was referring to the then contemporary America.

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