A combination picture shows the screen grabs taken on July 9, 2012 of the Apple web site in the U.S (R) and a store in Tehran called Apple Iran.REUTERS/Staff
A store in Tehran called RadanMac. Industry sources in Tehran say there are now an estimated 100 stores that trade in products made by U.S. technology giant Apple in the capital alone, selling the latest versions of phones, tablet computers, laptops and other gear sometimes at little more than their cost in the United States.REUTERS/Handout
Ever-tightening sanctions have banned the sale of nearly all American-made products to Iran. Despite this, Iran has seen a massive boom in demand for iPhones, iPads and other Apple products supplied by enterprising merchants using underground trade routes.REUTERS/Handout
But does Siri speak Farsi?
In spite of an official U.S. policy preventing the export of the company’s popular electronics to Iran, as many as 100 stores in the Middle Eastern country are selling Apple gear -- and doing a booming business.
According to a Reuters report, RadanMac and dozens of other stores operating in Tehran are selling laptops, all-in-one desktops, computers, and of course, iPads. The store reports doing a bustling business selling the officially sanctioned electronics gear.
"Business has been booming for the last three years," Majid Tavassoli, the store's owner, told Reuters in a phone interview. He said his company employs more than 20 staffers and has been supplying Apple products to Iranian buyers since 1995. The company also has a servicing unit and a business sales arm whose clients have included the Central Bank of Iran, state television channels, newspapers and design professionals.
'Business has been booming for the last three years.'
- Majid Tavassoli, RadanMac store owner
The official ban prevents export of such merchandise, but enterprising Iranians merchants are distributing the equipment via underground routes, the news agency reported. When asked about the presence of banned gear in Iran, an Apple spokesman referred to the company’s official export policy -- a policy Apple stores in the U.S. have run into hot water for supporting.
In late June, Iranian-rights groups blasted Apple for reportedly denying Farsi-speaking Americans across the country the right to buy iPads simply because of the language they speak.
The incident began in Alpharetta, Ga., where 19-year-old U.S. citizen Sahar Sabet claims she was turned down when she tried to purchase a tablet computer, according to a WSB-TV Atlanta report. Zack Jafarzadeh from Virginia claims he had a similar experience at a nearby store in Atlanta.
Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), claimed there were other incidents in California and Virginia -- he declined to provide more details -- and that Apple policies supporting sanctions against Iran were leading to discrimination.
"These are legal residents, on American soil," he told FoxNews.com. "As Americans we are outraged, and every American would be outraged."