Last week in Alpharetta, Georgia, a young woman of Iranian descent was denied the purchase of an iPad by an Apple employee due to the fact that she was from Iran. A US citizen, Sahar Sabet felt humiliated and betrayed when the Apple employee came back and told her that it is company policy to not sell to people from Iran, due to bad relations between the United States and Iran.
She was at the store with her uncle who was there visiting from Iran when the purchase was denied. This was made clear to the Apple employee before he came back and said they couldn’t buy the iPad. Common sense tells me that the employee thought that while the girl was buying it, the iPad was for her uncle who would then try to take it back to Iran.
When the channel 2 action news team in Atlanta found out about the story, they sent a reporter to the Apple store in question to talk to the manager. The manager showed the reporter 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 the reporter they have to rely on customers to be honest. He reiterated (the policy) always will be to not sell to anyone from Iran.
This is a touchy situation because while it is against the law to discriminate based on country of origin. It is also illegal to travel to Iran with laptops or satellite cellphones without U.S. authorization said a representative for the U.S. State Department.
Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), claimed there were other incidents in California and Virginia but he did not give any details about the incidents. “These are legal residents, on American soil,” he told FoxNews.com. “As Americans we are outraged, and every American would be outraged.”
While the Council on American-Islamic Relations is appalled at this, there is an Islamic group that is ok with what happened. The Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans supports Apple’s take on the Alpharetta incident, concluding that Apple’s refusal to sell the product was not based on discrimination. The company is legal obliged to prevent sales if a product’s ultimate destination is Iran.
CAIR disagrees, saying in a statement: “We understand that Apple’s official company policy … is almost verbatim taken from the Iranian Transaction Regulations (ITR), specifically 31 C.F.R. § 560.204, and is in line with U.S. economic sanctions targeting Iran. However, at issue here is the correct application of that policy by Apple’s employees.”
Apple is in a tough place. They are trying to follow the Iranian Transaction Regulations laws, but the only way they can actually do that is to break the discrimination laws. Almost a no win situation for them.