In a tweet published on 24 January 2022 on the subject of recent escalations in the Middle East, Foreign Policy CAN (the official Twitter account for Global Affairs Canada) has used the false term “Arabian Gulf” in reference to the Persian Gulf.
“Persian Gulf” is the only historically accurate, legally valid and internationally recognized name for the body of water between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula. This name has been widely and globally used for over two millennia, as evidenced by thousands of historical maps from across the world.
In its 2006 report, the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names acknowledged the legitimacy of the name Persian Gulf, citing “6000 maps and more than 200 historical and tourism books from Irastus to Herodotus to Estakhri and Ibn Houghal, who have all called the water body, Persian Gulf” and concluding that “any change, destruction, or alteration of the names registered in historical deeds and maps is like the destruction of ancient works and is considered as an improper action.”
The term “Arabian Gulf,” on the other hand, is a product of propaganda efforts of some politicians who used it for their political gains by exploiting ethnic tensions in the region and rallying political support for their territorial ambitions. The use of such a term by an official social media account of the Government of Canada is deeply regrettable. Not only is this language diplomatically inflammatory and risks stoking already heightened tensions in the region, but it is also highly offensive to the Iranian-Canadian community.
Altering significant geographical names that inform the identity of a community amounts to the erasure of that community’s culture and history, which goes against the Canadian Government’s official commitment to multiculturalism. Thus, the Iranian Canadian Congress (ICC) urges Global Affairs Canada to remove the divisive and misleading statement from its official channels and ensure that the historically accurate name, “Persian Gulf”, be used in all official statements and documents.