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PAAIA Condemns Discriminatory Attacks Against Iranian American Candidates

For Immediate Release:
Contact: Emily Pappas
Phone: (231) 357-6330

Washington, DC – The Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA), a nonprofit, nonpartisan, nonsectarian organization serving the interests of Iranian Americans, today condemned disparaging and false social media posts directed at two Iranian American public officials, both of whom are currently seeking reelection, as reported in the Long Beach Post News.  

The false and discriminatory posts directed at the two women – Sunny Zia, an elected trustee serving the Long Beach Community College, and Long Beach Community Councilwoman Suzie Price – follow a pattern of slanderous attacks directed at Iranian American public officials because of their ethnicity and national origin, among other bigotry. Earlier this election, Amanda Makki, a Florida Republican candidate for Congress, whose opponent tried to discredit her on the basis of her national origin, was called a terrorist by supporters of her opponent. Sepi Shyne, a candidate running for the West Hollywood City Council in California, has also received both racist and homophobic threats this election cycle. 

In response to these attacks against Iranian American candidates, PAAIA Executive Director Leila Austin issued the following statement:  

“For far too long, the Iranian American community has been subjected to hateful sentiment and harmful stereotypes that do not speak to the values of America. Racism, xenophobia, homophobia, sexism, religious discrimination, and all other forms of intolerance have no place in our government and in our communities. During this heated election season, I ask for greater acceptance of the differences that make America beautiful and I urge for an end to rhetoric and actions that threaten the civil liberties and civil rights of our nation. To Sunny Zia, Suzie Price, Amanda Makki, Sepi Shyne and the countless others who have endured racist and xenophobic attacks, I offer my promise that PAAIA will not stop our fight to end discrimination until every American is treated equally.”  

According to the results of PAAIA’s recently released 2020 National Public Opinion Survey of Iranian Americans, more than three-quarters (78%) of respondents expressed concerns about discrimination, citing national rhetoric and policies towards immigrants and Muslims and increased tension between the U.S. and Iran as sources for discrimination. In fact, sixty percent (60%) of respondents reported that they or Iranian Americans they know have faced discrimination because of their ethnicity or country of origin.

In June, PAAIA worked alongside Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Francis Rooney (R-FL), Scott Peters (D-CA) and Michael Waltz (R-FL) to introduce legislation in the U.S. House and Senate that recognizes that discrimination has long been endured by Iranian Americans and urges greater acceptance and protections of the community.  


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