Archive for the ‘Iran and young girls’ category

Why Iran’s supreme leader fears gender equality

April 1, 2017

Why Iran’s supreme leader fears gender equality, American ThinkerHassan Mahmoudi, April 1, 2017

(Many Western “feminists” complain about their abject misery and don “pussy hats” to make their points. They ignore the far worse situations of their sisters in Islamist regimes such as the Islamist Republic of Iran, while proclaiming the benefits of Islamist fundamentalism. — DM) 

The mullahs of Iran and their fundamentalist disciples are not only the enemy of the people of Iran, but also the enemies of all Middle East nations and the entire world.

In particular, in so far as it concerns women, fundamentalism targets and jeopardizes all the achievements that women have made to date.

Therefore, confronting the Iranian regime should be the immediate goal of women’s struggle all over the world. Women’s international sisterhood and solidarity demands that they support the fight against the fundamentalist regime of Iran.

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For the ayatollahs, women’s rights are a matter of puppetry, with yes-women parroting whatever the mullahs’ line for the day is. For Iran’s real women’s rights champions, the picture is very different. They can demonstrate why the ayatollahs are terrified of equality.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, in his address to the nation on the occasion of Nowruz, the Persian New Year, claimed that gender equality is a “Zionist plot” aiming to corrupt the role of women in society. He told a meeting of religious speakers in Tehran that Iranians should resist feminist ideas last March 20.

Khamenei claimed that men and women are equal in the “ascendance of spiritual positions, the power of leadership, and the capability to lead humankind.”

For Khamenei, the occasion of Nowruz, or any national celebration or religious holiday, is nothing but a cynical means of safeguarding his dictatorship. So of course he can make preposterous claims as he did above. In ayatollah-ruled Iran, women’s rights are not about empowering women but just another way to lie to society about state policies. Nothing explains it better than to use the maxim of Adolf Hitler, who said: Make the lie big. Make it simple. Keep saying it, and eventually people will believe it. The ayatollahs use this maxim. But the people in Iran and especially women have never believed his words.

In other contexts, the ayatollah has sung a different tune.

Khamenei said: “the effort to establish equality between men and women was “one of the biggest intellectual mistakes” of the Western world.”

Grotesquely enough, Khamenei has quislings in state women’s groups who echo his sentiment, expressing approval.

One is Minou Aslani, head of the Women’s Basij organization in Iran, affiliated with the Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which cracks down on women for any sign of independence. It has called the promotion of gender equality illegal and demanded that the country’s powerful judiciary take action against people who speak out against such state-sponsored discrimination, according to the semiofficial Mehr news agency. On Dec. 06, 2016, she condemned efforts to increase the number of women in parliament. Pushing for greater female participation threatens to “distort” the identity of Iran’s women, she said.

Her ‘thinking’ couldn’t be less like those of normal women’s rights activists operating under great pressure in Iran. In a roundtable discussion called Women in Leadership, the Experience of the Iranian Resistance, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi the President-elect of National Council of Resistance of Iran expressed the authentic reality. I have permission to reprint her thinking in full and share it now:

The Iranian women’s struggle for freedom and equality has lasted one-and-a-half centuries. Iranian and Western historians who have studied the developments of the past 150 years in Iran have clearly attested to this reality.

Over this span of time, we have seen vanguard women who rose up and proved their competence in various arenas despite the reigning culture and policies of tyranny and misogyny. This phenomenon was most significantly demonstrated in women’s courageous participation in the anti-dictatorial struggles over this period.

Women’s struggle is essentially the best and most comprehensive indicator of progress in a given society. How can we measure the advances of a society towards real progress and development? The answer is to the extent it endeavors to achieve freedom and equality.

In the absence of gender equality, any political, economic or social progress would be ineffective, fleeting, or reversible.

From this vantage point, the uprisings which led to the 1979 overthrow of the Shah in Iran marked a major leap forward through women’s remarkable and extensive participation in street demonstrations. This new phenomenon unveiled the Iranian people’s widespread desire for progress. At the same time, it revealed a shocking contradiction:

One the one hand, the ruling regime quickly adopted regressive and despotic policies and caused appalling backwardness. On the other hand, the Iranian society was broadly seeking freedom and democracy, and sought to make social progress and advancements.

Such contradiction led in the first step to a major clash. The barbarity and savagery of the new regime drenched the Iranian revolution in blood.

The Role of Women in the Iranian Resistance

Women’s active participation in confrontation with the mullahs’ religious fascism formed the corner stone and foundation of resistance against the regime.

Quantitatively, women’s participation in this struggle was extensive since the outset. Qualitatively, they were brave, efficient and selfless.

Tens of thousands of women were tortured or executed in the struggle against the ruling fundamentalist regime. These events were particularly transpiring in the 1980s.

If women did not have powerful motivations, and if they had not set their sights on a bright and magnificent horizon, they would have definitely been intimidated by the merciless tortures and massacres that were unprecedented in our contemporary history. But, instead, the clampdown made them even more determined and resolute.

Women’s role rapidly became more pronounced in the post-revolution developments in Iran. They became the pivotal force of the movement.

Today, women hold key and leadership positions in the resistance movement. They make up more than 50 percent of the members of the Resistance’s parliament-in-exile.

The guiding principles of women’s role in the Iranian Resistance can be summarized as the following:

First, the struggle of the women of this movement for equality has been deeply intertwined and connected to the broader struggle for freedom in Iran. Therefore, it has targeted the ruling dictatorship, which is a religious tyranny, while combating its forced religious edicts, misogyny and inhumane discriminations.

Second, they have waged a foundational struggle against objectification of women while defying the gender-based ideology that forms the central tenet of inequality.

Third, women have recognized their mission and mandate in leading this movement while discovering and subsequently implementing in practice the fact that the hegemonic role of women in this perseverance provides a liberating force and propeller.

Fourth, the pioneering women have linked their struggle to the efforts and struggle of the resistant and equality-seeking men of the movement. They see it as an important part of their responsibilities to support the men of the movement in the struggle against inequality and against patriarchal thinking and culture.

The Emergence of Islamic Fundamentalism

Iranian women have gained many valuable experiences in their struggle against the ruling religious tyranny, which is the source of Islamic fundamentalism.

A cursory review of the history of the origins of fundamentalism and its essence will aid us in explaining this point more clearly.

Since the late 18th century and early 19th century, in the geographical region that hosts most of the Islamic countries – extending from North Africa to the Caucuses, Central Asia and the Indian Ocean – under the shadow of major political, social and technological developments in the world, the people engaged in struggles to change their destiny. They sought to gain freedom, independence, rule of the law, as well as economic and social progress. Why did this wave wash over Islamic countries?

In such a setting, several destructive factors set the groundwork for the emergence of Islamic fundamentalism. Ignorance, lack of education and backwardness are, of course, some of the contributing factors. Additionally, however, one can mention the interventions and mistakes committed by western governments in these countries, whose catastrophic effects, including invasions and the displacement of peoples and destruction of national social institutions of the countries of the region produced deep antipathy and a sense of resentment toward western countries. This fact has been verified today by quite a few western thinkers and even politicians.

Western governments gave support to dictatorial regimes and thus destroyed the middle class, produced an uneven economic and social growth, and eliminated nationalist parties and freedom-loving movements in these countries.

The Defining Impact of the Iranian Regime

The ascendance to power of Khomeini and his allies in exceptional and unique historical circumstances marked the exact moment when Islamic fundamentalism as we know it entered the global stage. This was a horrendous power-thirsty and profoundly misogynous force founded on religious discrimination. It instituted its backward sharia laws as a mechanism to establish a religious tyranny, and became a model of governance for fundamentalist groups.

In reality, dictatorships like the previous regime of Iran were too weak and corrupt to be able to stand against the waves of people who demanded freedom and particularly against the power of women and youths.

So, instead, religious fundamentalists undertook the mission to crack down on and suppress them.

The Essence of Fundamentalism

At its core, what does Islamic fundamentalism want to oppose or stand against? Is it the world of Islam lining up against the West or in particular against Christianity and Judaism?

The answer is NO. The truth is that the real dispute is not between Islam and Christianity, Islam and the West, or Shiites and Sunnis. It is, rather, a confrontation between freedom and subjugation, and between equality and injustice.

Islamic fundamentalism, in essence, represents a backlash against the overwhelming tendency of the peoples of the region, especially women and youth, towards freedom, democracy and equality.

Enmity against Women

It should now be clear why fundamentalism focuses its wrath and violence against women more than anyone else. It is because women’s emancipation was the central theme of the demands of the enormous tide of people who sought a new order, freedom and equality.

Women emerged as a new force in the 1979 revolution in Iran and played a remarkable role.

For this reason, the role of women rapidly evolved and became more prominent in the course of the developments after the revolution, turning into the pivotal force of movement and struggle.
They were in the frontlines of resistance in torture chambers; they were in the front lines of demonstrations during the 2009 uprising; and they were in the front lines of the command structure in the National Liberation Army of Iran.

In contrast to this, enmity to women lies at the heart of Islamic fundamentalism and suppression of women is the central component for the suppression of the entire society.

Why did the mullahs need to revive the laws of past millennia in the final years of the 20th Century?

Why did they commit such inconceivable crimes under the name of Islam?

The answer is because they faced a widespread and general desire that could only be confronted and contained by naked oppression.

The Iranian regime innovated most of the cruelties and evil crimes that were later

The Iranian Resistance and its vanguard women launched their fight against a regime which not only was the enemy of the people of Iran but the main threat to the entire Middle East.

We have been warning since three decades ago that Islamic fundamentalism is a global threat.

Over the past 15 years, this threat has emerged in the form of terrorism and conflicts in the Middle East.

Today, we can see that European capitals have not remained immune from terrorist crimes carried out by fundamentalists. Wherever fundamentalists guided by the mullahs enter the scene, their terrorism and destruction quickly begins.

In conclusion, I would like to underscore the imperative and necessity for the entire world to confront this ominous phenomenon.

The mullahs of Iran and their fundamentalist disciples are not only the enemy of the people of Iran, but also the enemies of all Middle East nations and the entire world.

In particular, in so far as it concerns women, fundamentalism targets and jeopardizes all the achievements that women have made to date.

Therefore, confronting the Iranian regime should be the immediate goal of women’s struggle all over the world. Women’s international sisterhood and solidarity demands that they support the fight against the fundamentalist regime of Iran.

Stop the Hanging of a Child Bride in Iran

October 19, 2016

Stop the Hanging of a Child Bride in Iran, Front Page MagazineDr. Majid Rafizadeh, October 19, 2016

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Zeinab can be executed any day. Instead of continuing with sanctions relief and appeasement policies, the Obama administration should bring attention to Iran’s crimes against humanity. Iran ranks as the world’s top executioner per capita. 

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She was born into poverty and an abusive family. As a young child she was forced by her family to marry an older man. According to the Islamic and Sharia law of Iran, this was a perfectly legal and moral arrangement. Islam encourages young girls to become child brides. Iranian authorities point out that the Prophet Muhammad’s life also demonstrates a similar model for his followers.

After being forced to marry, Zeinab Sekaanvand Lokran was repeatedly raped. But in Iran’s Islamist law, even if a husband beats and forces his wife into having sex with him, it is not considered rape or abuse of any kind, since they are married.  According to the clerics, a wife’s duty is to please the man. The Quran in Sura (Chapter) 2:223 says: Your women are your fields, so go into your fields whichever way you like.

Zeinab was also repeatedly beaten after her wedding day. Despite the risk she knew she faced, she attempted to leave her husband multiple times, but with no success. She begged the police to help her, but they ignored her complaints, and reprimanded her for leaving her tormentor. The Islamist law of the land does not provide any protection for girls like her. In addition, neither her family nor friends would accept her if she left her husband.

More tragedies were to unfold for Zeinab. Her husband’s brother began also repeatedly raping her.

She begged for a divorce, but her husband would not accept her request for one. She did not have any legal base according to Iran’s Islamist codes to get a divorce. Everything was against this brave, unyielding girl. Yet, the worst was still to come.

At the age of 17, her husband was found stabbed to death. Because Zeinab had tried to escape him so many times, her community accused her of perpetrating her husband’s death. She was arrested and tortured for the next few months. After endless abuse and torment, she was forced to confess that she was a murderer.

It did not take long for the judge to issue a death sentence for Zeinab. She was not allowed to have access to a lawyer at any point of her trial. Once more, men made the decisions about her life and her death.

Zeinab insisted that her brother-in-law was the one who killed her husband. He threatened her to be silent, and told her that if she pleaded guilty, he would pardon her, according to Islamic law, so she wouldn’t be executed.

Just as she was about to be executed by the medieval method of hanging, it was discovered that she was pregnant. Soon after, she gave birth to a stillborn child, most likely due to the stress and physical abuse that she endured at the hands of her captors. Not long after she gazed at her lifeless baby, she was told by the Iranian authorities to be ready for execution.

Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s research and advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa, said: “This is an extremely disturbing case. Not only was Zeinab Sekaanvand under 18 years of age at the time of the crime, she was also denied access to a lawyer and says she was tortured after her arrest by male police officers through beatings all over her body.”

Mansoureh Mills, the Iran campaigner at Amnesty International, pointed out:

“I can only imagine how extremely difficult her life must have been. That is why this case is extremely shocking and disturbing, She was relying on adults to protect her and unfortunately no adults were able to do that. Not the authorities and not her family. She tried the police, but they wouldn’t help. She tried her family and they wouldn’t take her back. And she is just a teenager so she had nowhere to turn and so she was forced back to this allegedly abusive marriage until the day her husband was killed.”

The Islamic Republic has hypocritically signed on to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which prohibits the death penalty for and execution of children. But Iran repeatedly uses the death penalty to execute people under 18.

Zeinab is one case of many female children who live such tragic lives and then get executed. Last year, Iran executed Fatemeh Salbehi for reportedly killing her abusive husband at the age of 17.

According to the Islamic penal code of Iran, girls are treated as adults when they reach the age of nine.

Zeinab can be executed any day. Instead of continuing with sanctions relief and appeasement policies, the Obama administration should bring attention to Iran’s crimes against humanity. Iran ranks as the world’s top executioner per capita. It is incumbent on human rights organizations, the UN, Amnesty International and the international community to stop this execution and many other similar child executions, which are occurring in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The Real War on Women in a Nightmarish Islamic State

January 16, 2016

The Real War on Women in a Nightmarish Islamic State, Front Page MagazineDr. Majid Rafizadeh, January 15, 2016

(The “Islamic state” in the article is the Islamic Republic of Iran, our wonderful partner for peace — DM)

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When it comes to executions, girls are systematically more vulnerable due to the Islamist penal code of Sharia law.

Let’s take a look at the Islamist state of Iran, which creates its laws from the legal codes of Sharia and Quran. The first type of discrimination is related to age: girls are held criminally accountable at the maturity age of 9 Lunar years. (This will automatically put girls at a higher risk of execution by the court.)

Iranian ruling politicians hold the highest record when it comes to the most executions per capita in the world. Intriguingly, in the last two years that the so-called moderate, Hassan Rouhani, has been in office, there have been more than 2000 executions conducted in Iran. That is nearly 3-4 executions a day.

More importantly, Iranian leaders are also the largest executioner of women and female juveniles. Some of these executions were carried out on the mullahs’ charge of ‘Moharebeh’ (enmity with Allah), or waging war against Allah, ifsad-i Fil Arz (Sowing Corruption on Earth), or Sab-i Nabi (Insulting the Prophet).

There are three methods of execution for women and female juveniles: 1. Stoning  2. Public hanging 3. Shooting. Some women are also beaten so severely in the prison that they die before reaching the execution. Shooting, which is the fastest method of the three for execution, has not been used since 2008. Instead, the most common method to execute women is public hanging or stoning. Some of these women are flogged right before they are hanged. Public hanging not only imposes fears in the society but also aims at dehumanizing and controlling women as second-class citizens. According to the Islamist penal code of Iran, women offenses are classified as: Hadd, Diyyih, Ta`zir, and Qisas.

Some of these women are stoned for adultery. But even in stoning, the Islamists and Sharia law differentiate between men and women. Women are buried to the neck while men are buried to the waist. This allows some men to be capable of running away from the stoning, while women do not have a chance for survival, at all. If women are still alive after hours of stoning, a large block normally is smashed over their head.

Women from ethnic and religious minorities, as well as political dissidents, have also been targets of these executions. Based on the latest report, Ahmed Shaheed, the U.N.’s special “rapporteur” on human rights in Iran, pointed out that executing individuals from religious and ethnic minority groups are carried out because those victims were “exercising their protected rights, including freedom of expression and association…..When the Iranian government refuses to even acknowledge the full extent of executions which have occurred, it shows a callous disregard for both human dignity and international human rights law.”

In the latest report, Amnesty International announced: “Execution of two juvenile offenders in just a few days makes a mockery of Iran’s juvenile justice system.” And the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned Iran and warned about the rise of executions in Iran which “reflect a worrying trend in Iran….Over 700 executions are reported to have taken place so far this year, including at least 40 public, marking the highest total recorded in the past 12 years.”

In many of these cases related to women and female juveniles, it is clear that they were executed for either self-defense against forced marriage or a rapist, or for charges such as freedom of expression. They often are forced to marry at a very young age to an older person, or someone they do not like, such as in the case of the child bride, Farzaneh (Razieh) Moradi – who was forced to marry at the age of 15 and was executed in the city of Esfahan. These women were beaten and raped, repeatedly, by their spouses or relatives until they could not take it anymore and defended themselves. Some of these girls are being imprisoned and executed based on the fabricated charges of possessing opium. For example, in the case of the 16-year-old Sogand, the police found opium in her father’s house, but because there was no one at home except her, they arrested her. She is still in prison as none of her family members have come forward to save her life.

Some of these executions are based on the issue of “honor.” For example, some of these girls follow their hearts and fall in love with someone they choose themselves. But since their brothers and fathers disagree with this, the females get punished. For example, in the case of Mahsa, a seventeen-year-old, her brothers are the ones seeking her execution. In addition, if an Iranian Muslim woman has sex with a Christian or Jewish person, she will be executed (but a Muslim man is allowed to have sex with non-Muslim women).

Some of these girls are raped, repeatedly, in the process of investigation and forced into “Sighah”- the Shiite Islamist law of temporary marriage – with a cleric, or a member of Etela’at (intelligence), or Revolutionary Guard Corps before they are executed. Amnesty International previously pointed out that there are a “considerable” number of reports regarding this issue.

While the West is looking to lift sanctions against Iranian leaders in a few days and normalize ties with Iran, it is critical to look at the egregious human rights violations that this country is allowing. Is being silent and turning a blind eye to these human rights abuses appropriate? Doesn’t normalizing ties with the Iranian leaders and releasing billions of dollars to them, facilitate their efforts of executing more people, including women and child girls?

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Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian-American political scientist and scholar, is president of the International American Council and serves on the board of the Harvard International Review at Harvard University. Rafizadeh is also a former senior fellow at the Nonviolence International Organization based in Washington, DC and is a member of the Gulf Project at Columbia University. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@post.harvard.edu. Follow Rafizadeh at @majidrafizadeh.