Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) is under attack from the Iranian government today as a row over its naming of the Persian Gulf heats up. On Google Maps the body of water between the Arabian Peninsula and the eastern coast of Africa is nameless, a state of affairs the Iranian government views as a high form of contempt. The Persian Gulf title connotes with Persia and the Persian people. Persia is the ancient name for the region Iran now occupies and the country’s people claim descent from the ancient Persians.
The Iranian government responded with inflammatory language today. The statement accused the search giant of “fabricating lies” going on to suggest the company would lose customers as they “lose trust in the data the company provides”. Mountain View may not be frightened of threats from the Iranian state. The country is not known for its internet freedom and rumors suggest the country is in fact attempting to start its own internal network to rival the World Wide Web. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has not yet made a full statement in response to the allegations from the Iranians.
The Persian Gulf as a title for the body of water is not a region whose name is regularly under dispute. Alternative names for the area include the Arabian Gulf or simply the Gulf. The United Nations accepts the Persian Gulf as the only proper name for the region rejecting the name Arabian Gulf in a conference in 2002.
It appears the mapping service only changed the name in recent days and the move by the Iranian government is claimed to have been derived from popular discontent in the country. Google’s other mapping service, Google Earth still denotes the region’s primary name as the Persian Gulf but leaves the name Arabian Gulf as a secondary title. Whether or not the company will revoke its decision in leaving the gulf unnamed on its maps will certainly weigh on internal conversation in the coming days after today’s statement.
The move will be seen as another nationalistic ploy from Iran as it continues its diplomatic war with the Western world. Sanctions have been imposed on the country by the United Nations and rhetoric in Israel and the United States has become increasingly severe in recent months and many fear the conflict will turn into military action. Today’s statement is silly but is a symptom of the increasingly poisonous relationship between an isolated Iran and the rest of the world.