A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, May 4, 2012

Damned if You Do, Damned if You Don't, Damned if You Sit on the Fence ...

We've talked a number of times about the whole "Arab Gulf" versus "Persian Gulf" debate (if that's the right word for it). (Another post here.) While many Arabs prefer to call the body of water "the Arab Gulf," despite centuries in which they called it Khalij Fars, this makes Iranians irrational with fury. Some folks try to avoid controversy by just calling it "the Gulf," but Iranians have caught on to that as a sneaky way of avoiding saying "Persian."

So, apparently, Google Maps decided the better part of valor was just to not label the thing at all. (Google Earth, on the other hand, apparently uses both names.) But that didn't get past the Iranians either, who are now protesting.


David Mack said...

The late Ayatollah Khomeini suggested that they call it "The Islamic Gulf," which I thought was the best solution. Unfortunately, Persian nationalists did not agree. Despite the great prestige in Iran of the Imam Khomeini, the idea died with him.

Anonymous said...

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Hi. This is amazing. Just by the name of the Gulf itself can create a controversy. Whew! People nowadays.