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IRAN: Flight attendant fired, minister threatened with impeachment in 'Persian' vs. 'Arabian' Gulf spat [Updated]

February 21, 2010 | 11:05 am


Here are two words that'll cost you your job in Iran: "Arabian Gulf."

Iranians take seriously their claim that the body of water separating them from the Arabian Peninsula should be called the Persian Gulf, and not the Arabian Gulf, as some in the Arab world call it. 

A Greek flight attendant for the Iranian-owned Kish Air learned this lesson the hard way. 

He was fired, according to Iranian media, after he allegedly traded words with passengers who complained against the use of the phrase "Arabian Gulf" on a plane's in-flight monitors.

Iranian officials have reprimanded the airline and deported the flight attendant. 

Now a group of lawmakers is gunning for the minister of transportation, Hamid Behbahani, a crony of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, over the incident, according to a report by the Mehr News Agency (in Persian).

"The use of a false name instead of the Persian Gulf on board the Kish-Tehran flight sparked the move," Mehr quoted lawmaker Mostafa Kavakebian as saying.

[Updated, Feb. 22, 9:15 a.m. PST: Behbahani has since delivered a warning that airlines flying to and from Iran have 15 days to remove any references to the "Arabian Gulf" or even "The Gulf" from their in-cabin television monitors "If they fail to do so, first they will be prevented to enter Iran for one month and if they enter Iran they will be grounded and the departure permission will not be issued for them," he said, according to state television. "If [the offense] is repeated, the permission for the airline company will be revoked."]

Kavakebian emphasized, however, that this wasn't the only reason for the impeachment drive against Behbahani, citing "unnecessary and inexpert changes to the management of the road and transport ministry, numerous accidents on roads, railways and in air, impractical and hollow promises, repeated violation of previous promises, ignoring the demands and wishes of lawmakers, propaganda for half-finished projects and large expenses for personal publicity."

 -- Los Angeles Times

Image: A detail from the website of Kish Air.