Persians Need Not Apply?

Jul 12 2012 @ 4:04pm

NIAC's Jamal Abdi has been following [NYT] multiple recent incidents in which Apple store customers have been singled out and not allowed to buy products after employees heard them speaking Farsi or mentioning Iran:

Apple retail employees may be "geniuses," but they are not lawyers or law enforcement officers. Yet because of American pressure on companies to enforce export controls, some Apple employees have turned into vigilante sanctions enforcers. The Treasury and State Departments have significantly stepped up pressure on private companies and banks in America and around the world to abandon commercial activity with Iran as tensions between the two countries increase. Often, these private entities decide that it is simply not worth the risk of violating sanctions to continue facilitating even perfectly valid transactions.

The same problems may exist in Canada, where Bahman Kalbasi reports that TD Bank is allegedly closing the accounts of people with Iranian names:

As part of the sanctions, Canadian banks are forbidden to provide financial services "to, or for the benefit of Iran, or any person in Iran", TD wrote in a letter to an Iranian-Canadian customer. More than a dozen Iranian-Canadian TD customers told the BBC their checking and savings accounts were closed, credit cards and lines were revoked, and mortgages not renewed. "I felt like a second-class Canadian," said an Iranian woman in British Columbia who only found out her account had been closed when she entered a branch to withdraw cash.

The CBC spoke with another Canadian whose father's account was suddenly closed:

"We're not involved in any sort of transaction or any sort of activity that may benefit the government of Iran. And we're not people in Iran. We're permanent residents and citizens of Canada," she said. Ghasemi said her father goes to Iran about once a year for business and for personal reasons, but does not support the current regime. None of the money from her Canadian accounts goes to her father's farming business in Iran, she said.