Apple has barred Americans of Iranian descent from buying products at their stores, and the racial profiling is in line with their official company policy.
Sabah Sabet, a 19-year old U.S. citizen of Iranian extraction, and a student of the University of Georgia, took her uncle to buy an iPhone and an iPad at an Apple store in a mall in Alpharetta, Georgia, news channel Action News 2 WSB-TV Atlanta reports.
When the store clerk learned that Sabet and her uncle were speaking Farsi, he refused to sell them the electronics.
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“When we said ‘Farsi, I’m from Iran,’ he said, ‘I just can’t sell this to you. Our countries have bad relations,’” Sabet said to WSB-TV.
Sabet said the bigoted incident that she describes as “discrimination” and “racial profiling.”
“Very hurtful, very embarrassing. I actually walked out in tears,” Sahar Sabet said about the experience.
Shockingly, Sabet is not the only American of Persian ancestry who was the victim of racism by Apple.
Zack Jafarzadeh was unable to buy an iPhone for his Farsi-speaking Iranian friend, studying in the U.S. on a visa, at another Apple store in the Perimeter Mall in Atlanta, Georgia.
“We never talked about him going back to Iran or anything like that,” he said. “He was just speaking full-fledged Farsi and the representative came back and denied our sale.”
He said that the Apple employee was only concerned with the ethnicity of their client and not where the iPhone was going.
“I feel like this is a bit of racial profiling against Iranians, and I’m appalled,” Jafarzadeh said.
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“I would say if you’re trying to buy an iPhone, don’t tell them anything about Iran. That would be your best bet.”
The vendors at the stores in question said the decisions not to sell the products to anyone from Iran was within the framework of the company’s policy.
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Channel 2′s Amy Napier Viteri went with Sabet to the North Point Apple Store Monday.
They obtained iPhone video of the same employee repeating the policy.
He reiterated that the policy always will be to not sell to anyone from Iran.
A manager showed Viteri Apple’s policy. It said the exportation, sale or supply from the U.S. to Iran of any Apple goods is strictly prohibited without authorization by the U.S. government. The manager also told Viteri they have to rely on customers to be honest.
“Discrimination. Racially profiled. He didn’t have any business asking me what country I was from,” Sabet said.
Apple’s company policy, posted on its official website, prohibits the exportation, sale or supply of any Apple goods, technologies to Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Sudan and Syria without prior authorization from the U.S. government. The policy also applies to a “US person, wherever located.”
However, the policy seems to be inconsistent. When Sabah Sabet called corporate customer relations, an employee apologized and said she would be able to buy what she wanted online.
Apple has a history of bad relations with human rights. Numerous workers in Apple’s factories in China have killed themselves by suicide because of slave-like conditions.
When founder Steve Jobs was alive he made statements to other employees that he did not care that the Chinese workers had to sleep at the factories and were paid so little.
American Muslim and Iranian advocacy organizations have already reacted to the surprising case of discrimination.
On Tuesday, The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called on Apple to change its policy after learning about Channel 2 Action News’s report.
“Apple must revise its policies to ensure that customers do not face discriminatory treatment based on their religion, ethnicity or national origin,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. “If the actions of these Apple employees reflected company policy, that policy must be changed and all employees retrained.”
The National Iranian American Council is also asking Apple to review its policies requarding the enforcement of Iran sanctions.
“Unfortunately, this is part of an escalating pattern in which increasingly broad sanctions on Iran are hitting the wrong people,” said NIAC Policy Director Jamal Abdi. “Some of it is by design of Congress and the Administration, some of it is a lack of clarity about what is permitted, and some of it is over-enforcement of sanctions by private companies worried about running afoul of the law.”
A representative for the U.S. State Department told Viteri it is illegal to travel to Iran with laptops or satellite cellphones without U.S. authorization.
That representative said she is not familiar with Apple enforcing that law.
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