December 10, 2008
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) today released the findings of a national public opinion survey of Iranian Americans, showing overwhelming support for the establishment of a U.S. Interest Section in Iran.
“We commissioned Zogby International to conduct this survey to enable PAAIA to better represent the Iranian American community and to further inform the American public as well as U.S. policy makers and opinion makers about Iranian Americans,” said Babak Hoghooghi, PAAIA’s Executive Director.
According to the survey, 84% of Iranian Americans favor the establishment of a U.S. Interest Section in Iran, which would provide consular services for Americans traveling to Iran and facilitate issuance of visas for Iranians wishing to visit the United States. Currently, Iranians must travel to third countries to apply for U.S. visas. Plans for a U.S. Interest Section have been under serious consideration by the U.S. State Department under the Bush Administration without a final decision having been made.
This data, together with the finding that 85% of Iranian Americans believe it is important to facilitate greater understanding between Americans and Iranians, strongly suggest a broad mandate among Iranian Americans for increased contact and understanding between the peoples of the two countries.
“Because of the political problems that have challenged U.S.-Iran relations over the past three decades, we urgently need to foster the broadest understanding of what Iranian Americans have worked so hard to accomplish and contribute to American society,” said Rudi Bakhtiar, former CNN anchor and current PAAIA official. “This survey is important because it shows just how keenly Iranian Americans appreciate that task ahead.”
In fact, 75% of Iranian Americans believe it is important to ensure that their image in the U.S. accurately reflects their values, accomplishments and contributions to America. “Iranian Americans are leaders in the fields of science and technology, senior executives at Fortune 500 companies and among major philanthropic contributors in the U.S.,” Ms. Bakhtiar said.