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February 8, 2005
John McCaslin
The Marriott hotel chain found itself in the middle of an international incident after Iranian government officials posted in Washington booked a Bethesda Marriott conference center to celebrate yesterday's "Twenty-sixth anniversary of the glorious victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran."
"While you may not be aware of the political and economic ramifications of this event, it is certainly in the best interest of Marriott International Inc. and in the interest of the United States of America to deny [the Iranian government] the opportunity to hold this celebration at your conference center or at any other Marriott property, " Iman Foroutan, executive director of the Iran of Tomorrow Movement, wrote to the company.
"For your information, February 6th has been formally declared as 'Death to America Day' in the Islamic Republic calendar," he said. "The date chosen to hold this celebration, February 6th, is closely associated with the Iran Hostage Crisis, in which Islamic fundamentalists, acting under the orders of the Iranian government, stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took 52 American diplomats hostage, holding them for 444 days."
Roger W. Conner, Marriott International's vice president of communications, tells the Beltway Beat that Marriott could not honor the reservation regardless because of former President Clinton's order declaring Iran "an extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy and economy of the U.S.," making any trade with Iranian interests within U.S. borders illegal under U.S. law.