Protests planned against Iranian American council accused of lobbying for Tehran

Published: Updated:

Members of the Iranian diaspora are planning to protest against the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) in Washington DC on Friday, with the hashtag #ProtestAgainstNIAC gaining traction as protesters accuse the council of lobbying on behalf of the Iranian regime.

Despite NIAC's claim to be a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, it has been repeatedly accused of lobbying on behalf of the Iranian regime and against the interests of the Iranian disapora in the US, whom it claims to represent.

“For too long we have stood by as NIAC has promoted to the US government harmful appeasement policies toward the Islamic Republic. NIAC protects the interests of the ruthless, corrupt regime suffocating our beloved homeland. It neither represents Iranian-Americans who aspire for an end to the repression of the Iranian people nor the hope for true peace between Iran and the US,” a statement from a press release by the protest organizers read.

“As inside Iran our courageous countrymen and women wage their struggle against tyranny, we here will broaden awareness of the true motives behind what is essentially the regime’s lobby in America,” the statement added.

The hashtag #ProtestAgainstNIAC first started around three days ago, gaining considerable traction since. Protesters have been tweeting using the hashtag in both Persian and English, many of whom said they plan on attending the protest themselves.

The protests are set to be held on Friday between 1-3 p.m. EST outside of the NIAC offices in Washington. NIAC is yet to respond to the scheduled protests.

In late May, 2019, the hashtag #NIACLobbies4Mullah went viral on Twitter, just a week after the #NoWarWithIran hashtag was launched by the NIAC.

NIAC has a history of attempting to raise unsuccessful lawsuits against its critics. The council and its founder, Trita Parsi, have previously sued Iranian-American bloggers and intellectuals who published pieces which challenged its status as an independent nonprofit organization.

In 2015, two circuit judges and a senior circuit judge from the US Federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia forced NIAC to pay $183,480.09 in monetary sanctions to a blogger named Hassan Daioleslam. The court decided NIAC had to reimburse the blogger for the money he had spent fighting a defamation lawsuit NIAC brought against him in 2008, which was decided in his favor and dismissed in 2012.

“That Parsi occasionally made statements reflecting a balanced, shared blame approach is not inconsistent with the idea that he was first and foremost an advocate for the regime,” US District Judge John D. Bates wrote in his ruling summary at the time.