Washington, DC – On April 30, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) filed a lawsuit against Hassan Daioleslam in response to his defamatory articles about NIAC. Daioleslam, who has been identified by former members of the terrorist-listed Mujahedin organization as a member of the group’s executive committee, has since early 2007 mischaracterized NIAC’s anti-war and pro-diplomacy activities as serving the interest of the Iranian government. His writings have mostly appeared on right-wing blogs and in neo-conservative outlets.
NIAC welcomes a substantive debate on issues concerning Iranians Americans. It has repeatedly asked Daioleslam to engage in a constructive dialogue, but despite NIAC’s efforts, Daioleslam has continued to do nothing but defame NIAC through defamation, slander misquotations and false linkages to entities and figures that have played no role in NIAC’s inception, operations or development.
The decision to pursue legal action against Daioleslam has been motivated by NIAC’s strong conviction that the undemocratic practice of using defamation and character assassination to achieve political ends must be eradicated in order for the Iranian-American community to fully mature politically and play a strong role in American democracy.
“The Iranian-American community desires and deserves to play a positive role in American democracy,” said Alex Patico, co-founder of NIAC. “But practices such as slander and defamation do not belong in a democracy. The rule of this great democracy is that freedom of speech comes with great responsibility. You simply cannot lie and slander with impunity.”
Disagreements on matters of policy are natural and healthy, but personal attacks merely detract from healthy debate, chill the energies of well-meaning participants, and distort the process. If such attacks are not grounded in truth, the process suffers even further.
In Iran, like in most on-democratic countries, defamation and character assassinations are often treated as a legitimate part of politicking. In the United States, some Iranian Americans still operate under that assumption, despite having become a part of a country where such tactics are legally prohibited.
NIAC is not the only entity slandered by Mr. Daioleslam. He has a track record of attacking and defaming any individuals in the US who advocate a non-military path towards resolving tensions between the US and Iran. Besides NIAC, Daioleslam has also attacked Professor Vali Nasr at Tufts University, Robin Wright of the Washington Post, foreign policy experts Ray Takeyh of the Council on Foreign Relations and Suzanne Maloney of the Brookings Institute to name a few.
NIAC welcomes a fair debate on the merits of war and peace, but Mr. Daioleslam’s tactics do not serve such a debate and are not legitimate components of it. They are not only destructive, but illegal.
“Our hope is that the lawsuit will not only put an end to the defamation activities of Hassan Daioleslam, but also the general practice of defamation, slander and rumor making in the Iranian American political culture,” said Trita Parsi, NIAC President. “Our community will never live up to its full potential in America unless these undemocratic practices are put aside.”
National Iranian American Council