Congressional Quarterly Interviews PAAIA’s Executive Director
June 3, 2008
Sunday June 1, 2008
Five Questions for Babak Hoghooghi, Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans Executive Director
By Shawn Zeller, CQ Staff
Hoghooghi is the first director of the alliance, which was started in April in an effort to enhance the political power of Iranian-Americans, improve their image and protect them from discrimination. The group is being bankrolled by prominent Iranian-Americans including Cyrus Amir-Mokri, a partner at the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, and Hamid Biglari, a top executive with Citigroup Inc. Hoghooghi is a former energy lawyer with Skadden, Arps.
Q.What is your group’s mission?
A.Community building, image building and influence building. First and foremost, we want to bring our community together. We approximate that there are about 1 million Iranian-Americans.
Q.What do you think about the way the Bush administration has handled the U.S.-Iran relationship?
A.The future of Iran is a very pressing foreign policy issue and it has to be addressed, but our group’s focus is domestic.
Q.What are your domestic policy concerns?
A.Immigration and discrimination. To the extent that doing so doesn’t jeopardize national security, we would like to see easing of unnecessary and burdensome visa restrictions for Iranians.
Q.How did your community react to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s recent comment that “we would be able to totally obliterate” Iran if it attacked Israel?
A.Iranian-Americans didn’t exactly appreciate the comments or welcome them. We understand election year rhetoric is often dramatic, but nevertheless such extreme comments are not very constructive.
Q.Would Iranian-Americans like a rapprochement between the countries?
A.There is not a unanimous view. Having said that, many Iranian-Americans were born in Iran and raised in Iran — and at the end of the day, would most of the community be welcoming of a betterment of relations? Absolutely, but the question is what that would require. That’s where the community is divided.
Source: CQ Weekly
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