News » Chicken-Fried News

Oklahoma representative's English-only plea has Farsi roots



Rep. Randy Terrill, R-Moore, recently proposed an amendment to a Senate bill, asking for Oklahoma to quit providing any state services in foreign languages. Just what does that mean?

Well, according to Terrill, it means not having to worry about providing driver's license testing in other languages. It seems that would include Persian, also known as Farsi, as well as any other language.

Why should the state single out the mother tongue of Cyrus the Great? According to The Associated Press, it's about Fardha Sharifi and her husband, Alireza Sanghinmanesh.

According to the story, the two immigrated to the United States, and specifically to Oklahoma, but had trouble getting driver's licenses because they couldn't understand English well enough for the test.

Although Oklahoma does provide driver's license testing in Spanish (which Terrill wants it to quit doing), providing that test in Persian would apparently be a bridge too Farsi. A Tulsa World story reported the couple hoped to take the test by any means possible " a 2000 presidential executive order mandates states provide alternative testing means for those who don't speak English.

According to AP, Fardha Sharifi's cousin, Bartlesville restaurateur Hassan Sharifi, contacted the state driver's licensing office to see if the pair could take a non-English test, but nobody returned his call and nothing was done.

"They didn't answer me," he said.

 Hassan Sharifi's son, an economics major at the University of Oklahoma, filed a formal complaint on behalf of the couple.

"They wanted to go to work. And I had to drive them around almost everywhere they went," said Hassan Sharifi, who has lived in the United States for 30 years. "It seemed like my life was interrupted."

Eventually, arrangements were made for the couple to take the exam over the border in Kansas, which has a graphically depicted test, requiring no need for language services. After the couple got the Kansas driver's licenses, they came back to Oklahoma and exchanged them.

"In just one day in Kansas, they got something that could have happened in Oklahoma, but it did not," Hassan Sharifi told the World.

Not that it was easy, mind you. The couple had to move to Kansas briefly, rent an apartment and live there for a couple of months.

"I feel bad. No one wants to take the responsibility," Hassan Sharifi told AP.

Add a comment