As the Director of Community Outreach & Programming at the largest Iranian-American grassroots organization, I have the pleasure of regularly meeting and speaking with Iranian Americans from across the country. These conversations leave me proud of our culture and appreciative of our diversity. However, these interactions have also shed some light on one issue I find particularly painful, which is the fact that our community often falls prey to the rumor mill and conspiracy theories. This may be due to historical reasons. Regardless of the reasons, it prevents our growth and advancement.
We at NIAC have fallen victim to such rumors and lies. For example, over the last few days there have been several pieces published about the recent court case in which NIAC sued Hassan Daieoleslam for defamation for falsely claiming that NIAC and NIAC’s President Trita Parsi are agents of the Islamic Republic of Iran. One article in particular, published in a pro-war, neoconservative opinion paper stated that the “ruling lent some credence to the charge that Parsi is an agent of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
What bothers me about this false claim is, well, the fact that it’s false! So, here’s my pledge to you … to tell you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth when it comes to this court case. Why am I emphasizing the word “truth” so much? Because it’s sorely lacking in all the commentary posted by Daieoleslam and his fellow neoconservatives.
The truth, according to the Judge’s own words is that: “Nothing in this opinion should be construed as a finding that [Daieoleslam]’s articles were true. [Daieoleslam] did not move for summary judgment on that ground.” When someone is being sued for defamation, the obvious defense would be to prove that what he/she said was, in fact, true. After pouring over thousands of NIAC’s emails and documents, it became crystal clear that Daieoleslam could not use truth as his defense. Rather, he switched gears. His case solely focused on proving that he didn’t know he was spreading lies. According to him, he thought he was telling the truth.
Since NIAC and Trita Parsi are considered to be public figures, the onus was on us to prove that Daieoleslam’s defamation was done intentionally and with malice. Unfortunately, the Judge did not feel we were able to prove this point. Of course, we are disappointed with this assertion and couldn’t disagree more. Throughout the case, we showed how Daieoleslam systematically cut up quotes and haphazardly put them together to mislead the public. Here’s a simple example of how this is done:
Sentence 1: I like rainbows.
Sentence 2: The NYPD is working hard to stop sex trafficking.
Combined sentence: I like sex trafficking.
You can see how this is not only misleading, but it also takes effort to slice and dice my sentences in order to make me look like a pervert. This is precisely the kind of activity that Daieoleslam used to mislead the Iranian Diaspora time and time again that NIAC is lobbying for the Iranian government.
Another truth I find particularly interesting is about Hassan Daieoleslam himself. Perhaps we shouldn’t expect too much from, considering his past run-ins with the law in France, his admitted family ties to the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and his past stint as a street salesman of stolen perfume. (Don’t believe me? Check the court documents where disclosure of police records and employment are required.) But, since he is regularly appearing in news outlets and publishing pieces, I believe he should be held to the same standards as actual journalists, pundits, etc. Otherwise, he is adding to the rumor and only causing confusion among our community.
The last – and very important – point I’d like to make about this case is the funding source and its motives. Imagine the line-up. In one corner, we have NIAC – a non-profit organization with limited funds and a small legal team. In the other corner, we have Hassan Daieoleslam who, thanks to the financial backing of Daniel Pipes, founder and director of the Middle East Forum, had one of the world’s largest law firms (Sidley Austin) on his side. Who is Daniel Pipes, you may ask? Well, if you read the Anders Behring Breivik’s manifesto, you’d know him, considering he was cited by the Norwegian mass murderer on several occasions as an inspiration for his terrorist act. Or, perhaps its best to read some of Daniel Pipe’s own writings in order to better understand his positions and possible motives for supporting Hassan Daieoleslam. For example, in his article entitled "Confirmed: Barack Obama Practiced Islam," you’d see that according to Pipes, "this matters" because Democratic presidential candidate Obama "is now what Islamic law calls a murtadd (apostate), an ex-Muslim converted to another religion who must be executed," and as president this would have "large potential implications for his relationship with the Muslim world.” In another article Pipes penned entitled “Unleash the Iranian Opposition, [the Mujahedeen-e Khalq]” he advocated that the U.S. “unleash” the MEK against Iran. And, one final article by Pipes worth noting is entitled “How to Save the Obama Presidency: Bomb Iran,” where the title pretty much sums up his message to our President.
So, it was no surprise to us when, through the legal process of discovery, we found email communications where Hassan Daieoleslam writes that “destroying [Trita Parsi] … is an integral part of any attack on Clinton and Obama.“ (The email was sent during the Democratic primaries, when it was not yet clear who would be the Democratic nominee.)
There you have it folks. You have a defendant (Daieoleslam) who is pro-war, anti-Obama with MEK tendencies being back by a group (Middle East Forum) that is pro-war, anti-Obama with MEK tendencies.
I’m proud of the work NIAC has done throughout the years to promote civic engagement among the Iranian-American community, defend human rights in Iran, fight against the repression of the Iranian government against its people, prevent a U.S./Iran war, and promote our beautiful heritage and culture, among other things. I’m proud of our grassroots support. And, I’ve had enough of the lies spread by Hassan Daieoleslam and the other neocon elements. I’ll leave you all with one last question … if Daieoleslam really cared about our community, how come he spends all his time causing confusion and no time producing actual, tangible results? You want to see our results? Just click here. As the old adage goes, actions speak louder than words.
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