Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Iranians and Americans Take Diplomacy Into Their Own Hands

To facilitate people-to-people diplomacy, Enough Fear designed an action to connect Americans and Iranians who otherwise would never have the opportunity to talk with each other. Yesterday, they launched their first diplomatic hotline in Boston Commons which gave the opportunity to passers-by to speak directly to someone in Iran.

According to the AP article on the action, which was picked up by several papers, WBUR in Boston and NPR, Sarah Shugars, 24, an Emerson College master's student who was the first to take the phone, asked the Iranian on the other end of the line, “May I ask how the U.S. is portrayed in the media?” A 25-year-old artist on the other end in Iran, whose name and hometown could not be identified for fear of Iranian reprisals, responded, “Iranians don't have a problem with the American people, and it's just the president that's problematic and giving them a hard time.”

While the governments of the US and Iran have not engaged in direct diplomacy at official levels for decades, this citizen action allows ordinary citizens in both countries to connect with each other and demonstrate a willingness to resolve tensions through dialogue and diplomacy. Nick Jehlen said that 15 to 20 people took advantage of the opportunity during the hour-long effort yesterday. Nick noted it was a test run for an action that could be repeated in other cities. I’ve announced in my monthly “Iran Update” e-newsletter and Enough Fear is looking for volunteers in other cities.

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