Archive for the ‘Iranian resistance and women’ category

The Ladies vs. the Mullahs

January 14, 2018

The Ladies vs. the Mullahs, American ThinkerManda Zand Ervin, January 14, 2018

The theocratic tyranny in Iran is, by all definitions, international laws and United Nations resolutions, a gender apartheid regime, vehemently and actively opposed by the people of Iran.  Isn’t it past time for Western democracies and women to cease support for Tehran?  Instead, shouldn’t support go to the legacy of the Ladies’ Secret Societies and the brave women who are its descendants?

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No one knows her name, but a young Iranian woman waving a white scarf has become a symbol of almost forty years of struggle by Iranian women, protesting the gender apartheid that clerics brought to our country, overnight, in the winter of 1979.  She waved a white scarf in the air as a symbol of peaceful defiance and a campaign, #MyStealthyFreedom, of women fighting for their right to feel the wind in their hair in Iran, the country of my birth.

The reaction of the paramilitary forces of the regime has not been so peaceful, with this young woman allegedly detained and other protesters killed by the dictatorial theocracy of Iran, which demands that women cover their hair.

The young woman’s struggle is part of a longer battle that Iranian women and men have fought against the Shia clergy’s thirst for power and wealth since the 1840s, when a band of organizations, the Ladies’ Secret Societies, emerged to take Iran back from occupying clergy.  They prevailed with the 1906 Constitutional Revolution that established a secular system of governance and separation of religion and state.  They hearkened back to a secular philosophy that has defined the Persian Empire since the year 539 B.C., when the emperor of Persia, Cyrus the Great, wrote the first proclamation of human rights and separation of religion from the state.

However, a few clerics, like the ayatollah Khomeini, would not give up.  He knew that the Iranian people did not want clerical rule and that he would never be able to take over Iran through a democratic process.  Khomeini needed America’s power and shopped for the support of U.S. presidents, beginning by writing to John F. Kennedy but succeeding only in fooling former president Jimmy Carter’s administration, which took the bait and helped Khomeini take Iran in 1979.

Today, the people of Iran call the ideology that controls every aspect of their lives “political Islam.”  You cannot convince a single Iranian that his dictatorial rulers care about Iran and Iranians.  Khomeini told us, “Iran is only a base and financial source for us to establish the rule of Islam throughout the world.”

The uprisings of the people of Iran, trending now with the hashtag #IranProtests, are nothing new.  The women of Iran have been fighting since the day Khomeini announced the imposition of his regressive sharia law on the people, making the free and equal women of Iran and their children property of men, perhaps better defined as “slaves.”  We marched day after day, in the rain and snow, with little support from the West.  I lost friends to prison, assassination, and exile.  My father begged me to go into exile, and I did, fleeing with my young daughter, tears in our eyes.

Iranians endured eight years of a bloody and inhumane war between Khomeini and Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, with an estimated one million young boys and men of Iran dying.

The women of Iran have constantly protested in defiance of sharia laws, to be arrested, tortured, and abused in prisons.

In 1998, Tehran University students rose up in protest, in support of a professor who was fired and replaced by an illiterate, elderly cleric.  The protests lasted for weeks and ended with over 8,000 dead young students of Iran, with unknown numbers in prisons.

During the decades of 1990s and the 2000s, as the West entertained handpicked presidents of Iran, the women of Iran continuously demonstrated for their human rights and were beaten, arrested, and imprisoned.

On Sept. 18, 2001, defying the regime’s warnings and pressure, brave Iranians were the only people in the Middle East to hold a candlelight vigil in solidarity with America.  The thousands who marched peacefully down one of the main boulevards of Tehran were brutally attacked by Revolutionary Guards and paramilitary forces.  Many paid a high price for their bravery.  They were arrested and hauled off to prison.

In 2006, women organized a march and handed out 5,000 brochures that explained that sharia laws imprison the people.  They were attacked and arrested.

In 2007 and 2008, women began the One Million Signature Movement, a petition against sharia laws.  In one week, more men and women volunteered to collect signatures in every city of Iran.  The One Million Signature Movement brought to life the brave women of Iran, who quickly established organizations and websites.  But the inevitable happened.  In the early morning, paramilitary forces kicked in the doors to the women’s homes and beat them up in front of their husbands and children before taking them away to prison with their collected signatures.

In 2008, many Iranians, backed by world human rights organizations, proposed that the Nobel Peace Prize be given to the women of Iran for the One Million Signature Movement for courageous acts of defending human rights.  The academy gave it, instead, to the new president of the United States.

The next year, fearless women led the Green Movement of the people of Iran.  All they wanted was for Western democracies to stop empowering the dictatorial regime.  For days, they chanted, “Obama!  Obama!  Are you with them or with us?”  The world watched, mostly in silence, as they were killed.  I gasped in horror as I watched a young woman activist, Neda Agha-Soltan, take her last breaths after being shot by a sniper in a video captured by her friends.  Obama decided to stay aligned with the gender apartheid tyrants of Iran.

The theocratic tyranny in Iran is, by all definitions, international laws and United Nations resolutions, a gender apartheid regime, vehemently and actively opposed by the people of Iran.  Isn’t it past time for Western democracies and women to cease support for Tehran?  Instead, shouldn’t support go to the legacy of the Ladies’ Secret Societies and the brave women who are its descendants?

Manda Zand Ervin is a human rights activist, born in Iran and living in exile in the United States.  She is the author of the forthcoming book The Ladies’ Secret Societies.

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.