E-ZAN VOICE OF WOMEN AGAINST FUNDAMENTALISM IN IRAN
To our readers,
People of Iraq went to the polling
stations to vote on the new constitution today. While progress and democratic
governance is critical for Iraqis, many have expressed grave concerns over the
specific language pertaining women’s rights and their future role. Outspoken
critics have described the constitution as flawed for not doing enough for women’s'
rights or to insure the separation of church and state.
Iranian women are
particularly watchful of the developing situation in Iraq given Tehran’s strategic goals to
export Islamic fundamentalism. Rightfully so, the world is concerned about the
increasing meddling of Tehran in Iraqi’s affair. Some have
suggested and provided extensive evidence on how the language of the Iraqi constitution
was influenced by the Iranian regime.
Tehran is politically and
socially bankrupt at home and will
benefit greatly by having a proxy regime in Baghdad. Women are the prime
target of Islamic fundamentalism, so there is a pressing need to be vigilant
about the future of Iraqi women. However, women of Iraq will have no better ally
than women of Iran and Afghanistan in defeating Islamic
Fundamentalism. Currently, Tehran is the sole empowered
model of Islamic fundamentalism in the world. Global women’s movement must
unite to prevent Tehran’s meddling in Iraqi’s
affairs. There should be a global political voice against Islamic
As the leaders of the
world, particularly in Washington, are becoming more and
more conscious of the political and ideological danger of Islamic
Fundamentalism, they must look to Muslim women to lead the path in defeating
this threat. No one, except the Muslim women of Iran, can challenge Tehran’s regime in its entirety.
Only Muslim women can disarm those who justify terrorism and violence in the
name of Islam.
Let us listen to political voice of Muslim women
of Iran and Iraq before it is too late.
E-Zan Featured Headlines
The Wallstreet Journal
– September 19, 2005
…As the Bush
administration's Iraq strategy enters a
crucial period that is meant to culminate in two elections and set the stage
for a military withdrawal, the White House's public-relations push is being
complicated by the surprising anger the constitution is sparking among
Republicans and others normally supportive of President Bush. The critics have
expressed alarm about the provisions concerning women's rights, the role of
Islam in Iraqi daily life and the deference accorded to Shiite clerics with
close religious and cultural ties to neighboring Iran. In a letter late last
month to President Bush, meanwhile, Republican Rep. Kay Granger of Texas,
joined by Democratic Rep. Ellen Tauscher of California, expressed "deep
concern" that the draft constitution "holds the potential for
codifying discrimination against women as well as limiting fundamental human
rights for all Iraqis in a manner that may threaten the growth of democracy and
freedom in Iraq.” The lawmakers said they are especially concerned by
provisions mandating that "no laws may contradict the fixed principles of
Islam" and creating a supreme court composed of experts in Islamic law
that will have the power to strike laws down as unconstitutional…
State-run News Agency, IRNA – September 25, 2005
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a decree issued on Sunday
appointed Nasrin Soltankhah as his advisor for women's affairs and head of the
Center for Women's Participation (CWP). According to a report released by the
Presidential Office Media Department, in his decree the president referred to
women's crucial role in uplifting the Islamic community in the
post-revolutionary era and attributed their active participation in various fields
to the founder of the Islamic Revolution, the late Imam Khomeini. "Under
the present atmosphere, the Iranian women symbolize freedom and chastity…”
Agence France Presse – September 26, 2005
Women's rights activists
in Iraq say rising extremism is
restricting their freedom, even as the country prepares to vote on a
constitution that is touted as one of the Arab world's most progressive
regarding women. "Women cannot walk freely out in the street," said
activist Ban Jamil, who directs the Rasafa Branch of the Assyrian Women's Union, a local
non-governmental organization in Baghdad. "Women face a
lack of respect when they walk uncovered," said Jamil, a Christian, who
said women are insulted if they show too much skin or walk in public without
wearing the Islamic veil, or hijab, to cover their hair. She blamed
"imported extremist doctrines, which were never experienced in the
past" for the new restrictions. The tide of Islamization has risen in Iraq as fundamentalist
Shiite parties have come to power following the ouster of former dictator
Saddam Hussein. Although not enforced by the newly established laws, which were
written under U.S. patronage, a
conservative dress code is widely observed in much of the war-torn country. But
conservative dress in Iraq is not as universally
strict as in neighboring Shiite Iran, or ultra-conservative Sunni Saudi Arabia,
where women have to cover from head-to-toe in public.
Al Sharg Al Awsat – September 28, 2005
Iraqi women do not hide
their worries regarding the imposed restrictions against their freedom, with
the acceleration of the Islamic fundamentalist trends in the Iraqi community. Ban
Jameel, director of a local branch of the Assyrian Women Federation in Baghdad, said, "Women in
the street do not move freely." This Christian woman said, "The
problem is that women face lack of respect just for being unveiled." She
confirmed that women are insulted unless their clothes are long and are veiled.
Jameel attributed this phenomenon to "the extremist sectarian ideas
imported from abroad, which we have not witnessed before.” It is worth
motioning that the Iraqi community is witnessing continuous acceleration of
Islamic fundamentalism. Nevertheless, Iraqi women are still far from the very
conservative clothes worn by women in Iran, who are forced to
cover their heads up to the bottom of their feet. In Iraq, a girl can wear
trousers, a long-sleeved shirt and a scarf on the head, while older women ten
to wear more conservative clothes such as black cloaks that only disclose the
face and hands. Nevertheless, it became almost impossible for women to wear
short-sleeved shirts or skirts, despite the fact that these outfits were
greatly spread in Baghdad a few yeas ago.
Iran Focus – October 2, 2005
Iran’s State Supreme Court
sentenced a woman to death, a state-run daily reported on Sunday. The woman,
only identified by her first name Shahla, was accused of murdering the wife of
a famous Iranian football star in Tehran in October 2002. Shahla
had proclaimed her innocence throughout the trial, the daily Sharq wrote. The
State Supreme Court upheld the original court’s ruling, which blamed Shahla for
the murder of the wife of Nasser Mohammad-Khani. She faces imminent execution
AKI – Italian News
Gateway – October 5, 2005
The Iranian journalist
and activist for the rights of the minority Azera community in Iran, Masoumeh
Babapour, has been found almost dead on a bridge in the south of Tabriz, the
provincial capital of Iranian Azerbaijan, in the northwest of Iran. Babapour
was kidnapped by four unidentified people on Monday morning while on her way to
work. Her disappearance was reported by her husband, Bagher Hassanzadeh. The
journalist was found with nine stab wounds on Wednesday morning lying under a
bridge and in a critical condition.
"In the last few weeks, my wife received various threats over the
telephone, and a letter in which she was accused of being an atheist,"
Hassanzadeh told independent website, Tabriz News.
"In the same letter, it was written that the religious authorities had
already decided to pass a death sentence on Masoumeh," he added. She is
currently in hospital in a coma and is still in a critical condition.
Iran Focus – October 10, 2005
A Majlis (Parliament)
deputy from the central city of Isfahan told reporters that
there was an urgent need to act against “corruption and mal-veiling” by women
in society, state media reported on Monday.
“In recent years we have seen a great number of violations [of the dress code].
How longer do we have to witness such behavior?” Hojjatoleslam Mohammad-Taghi
Rahbar said. “In recent years much of the Islamic customs in offices,
hospitals, organizations, universities, and air schools have not been adhered
to”, the mid-ranking cleric added.Rahbar
said authorities should immediately deal with violators of the dress-code
starting in the holy Muslim month of Ramadan which began last Tuesday.
Iran Focus – October 10, 2005
A senior Iranian cleric
in the city of Qom called for death
sentences to be handed down to prostitutes, a semi-official daily reported on
Monday. “Those who try to spread prostitution, corruption, and sins in society
must be dealt with”, Ayatollah Nasser Makarem-Shirazi, one of the
highest-ranking clerics in the holy city, said. Shirazi said that drug dealers
were among those who were spreading corruption in society, according to the hard-line
daily Jomhouri Islami. “These people are Mofsid Fi-Alarz and must be dealt with
under Islamic law”, the senior Ayatollah said. Mofsid Fi-Alarz literally means
“corruptors on earth” and under Iran’s Sharia law is
punishable by death. “If everyone feels responsibility for the orders of Islam,
no one will dare to spread prostitution”, he said. “Anyone who stays silent in
the face of social disorder and centres of corruption and prostitution has
actually betrayed Islam”.
Mutilation in Iran: 70% of Women in Province
of Hormozgan are victims of FGM
and compiled by WFAFI Research Committee
October 9, 2005
genital mutilations are performed entirely under unsanitary conditions by
midwives with razors.Girls undergo this
very routine procedure after the 40th day of their life.The women who criticize this procedure, or
what has been referred to as “The Razer of Culture and Tradition” are accused
of being rebellious.
a small city of 13,000 in the province of Hormozgan
within 5 kilometers of Port Langeh, has very strict laws against women, which
are rooted in their tradition.Genital
mutilation is one of the hallmarks of aggression against women, as 70% of the
females undergo this procedure.
activist gave this report but wanted to remain anonymous because such topics
are taboo.However, she distributed the
report widely.According to this woman,
some of the girls in the city undergo genital mutilation at the age of 4 or
5.This procedure is carried out under
unsanitary conditions by the midwives.Needless to say, it is torture for girls, because they see the mutilation
being done on them typically, the edge of the clitoris is cut by a razor.
activist said, “Any objections to this procedure is considered rebellious, and
it has gotten to the point where girls have accepted genital mutilation”.Some of the girls they think it is legitimate,
since their mothers/grandmothers have also done this procedure.
the people of KangPort
are Sunni Muslims.It has been said that
genital mutilation is practiced in JaskPort
as well.Gender hierarchy, polygamy,
prohibition of girls to continue their education or even leave the home, and
lack of respect for women’s decisions are some of the other issues that
continue to exist in KangPort.
mutilation has been performed on 130 million women and girls, and each year, at
least 2 million girls become prospects for the procedure “that’s 6,000 per day.”According to Vardes Deery, author of Flower
of the Prairie, who has herself been a victim of genital mutilation, this
procedure has generally been done by midwives or village women.No anesthesia or medicine is used, and it is
done with anything that is available, including razors, knives, broken glass,
sharp stones, or even teeth.
activist who originally gave this report said, “When I was reading the book Flower
of the Prairie, I could not believe that women in my country were going through
this.Today, I am very depressed and sad
from hearing about what our people are going through, just as when I was
reading Vardes Deery’s story about her mutilation.Today, I was talking with a woman in KangPort,
this beautiful, bashful southern woman told me about their problems.”She said, just recently, her and her friends
have established a non-governmental organization for women in Port Kang.According to her, the goal for establishing
this organization is for women to start becoming active in society.She said that the only way that women can
leave their homes to discuss these issues is for them to claim that they are
going to an alterations class or a class for florists.When this woman was speaking, she paused for
what seemed like years.When out of
curiosity, I asked the reason of her pause, I encouraged her to speak, I asked
her to give me more information about her city and the problems, with a shaking
voice, she replied, “I am very shy to tell you about this.” Again, she paused. “You
know, the main problem of our women is not hierarchy, abuse by males, or
banning women from continuing education.The women of my city have a bigger problem:They all have to undergo genital
mutilation.I and the other women of my
city will never be able to solve this problem.We could open schools and have poetry clubs for women, but there is no
point, because we cannot do anything about this horrible procedure.”
mutilation has been done in other countries, as well.For example, in Somalia,
they believe that in between the legs of a woman is filthy and must be removed,
leaving only a scar from that.After
their 40th day, girls have to do this.If a family could not do this at that time, they must do it at age 4 or
5, which makes it much harder, because the girls are forced to watch the
procedure.This causes emotional
disturbances in the future.I asked the
village woman if she has ever taken any steps to change get rid of this
practice, and she said “The people of my city call this the “Razer of Culture
and Tradition”, and if this razor wont touch the women’s bodies, the women will
be dirty and filthy; even talking about this is a sin.”
the midwives do this procedure in very unsanitary situations, and consider this
action to be very practical and useful.They don’t like to abolish it.It
seems that this tradition came to Hormozgon by the men who had returned from
some of the cities in India,
such as Calcutta
and Somali.“One of my friends told me, there
are still some old men in the city that have wives and kids in Somali and Calcutta,
and sometimes they go visit them.Perhaps this tradition came from there.”
The public opinion in KangPort
is that women are sensual creatures and with genital mutilation, you can take
away this sensuality.The women who have
not done this procedure are considered as filthy.“Vardes and other African girls are not the
only ones who have been mutilated.The
many flowers of the prairie that exist in our country have had this action done
to them, but their voice will not reach anywhere.So this is my job and your job to battle with
this wrong, cruelty.”
defenders deny cover-up for Women’s Games
Agence France Presse
September 23, 2005
Supporters of Iran’s Islamic Women’s Games
have dismissed arguments the event is a sideshow to gag women competitors
denied access to the Olympic Games.
“We are seeking to
empower and encourage Muslim women, who are absent from the international
sports grounds due to their beliefs,” said Faezeh Hashemi, daughter of former
president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who started the games in 1993. French
basketball umpire Chantal Julien, who officiated at the 2001 Games, added:
“It’s clear some of them would like to compete abroad. However, they do not
believe they’re prisoners.”
Since the Islamic revolution Iranian women have been mostly banned from
international sporting events due to the obligatory head scarf and long coat
they must wear in front of men. Under the previous reformist government of the
last eight years, Iran started sending women
athletes to competitions abroad in the events where women are able to compete
and wear the veil, such as shooting, taekwondo, fencing, canoeing, chess and
In the 2004 Olympic
Games in Athens, Iran had a sole female
representative – Nassim Hassanpour – in pistol shooting. An American Muslim
runner is to be the first woman to represent the US in Iran, although photographers
will not be allowed to record the event which runs from September 22 to 28.
Saira Kureshi, 26, will race in the 800 and 1500 metres in the fourth all-women
games. Male coaches, referees and spectators are banned from the Games except
for golf, shooting and archery, where participants are modestly dressed and
Only these three
competitions are open to male spectators and can be photographed or filmed, as
well as the opening and closing ceremonies since the women appear in Islamic
wear. In order to attract more athletes, this year non-Muslim women have been
allowed to participate as long as they are on the national teams of their
countries and agree to compete under the stipulated conditions.
Sportswomen from 48
countries, many of them Islamic, will compete in 18 sports. Iran’s Christian northern
neighbour, Armenia, is sending 17 teams.
Athletics, shooting, table tennis and taekwondo have attracted the most
participants. The week-long event has few sponsors and has been allocated a
budget of 10 billion rials ($1.1 million), which according to Hashemi “is barely
enough” to cover costs.
“The games do not
satisfy sponsors as there are no television cameras to show their
advertisements,” she explained. Although Iran has been approached by
other Muslim countries such as Pakistan and Qatar wanting to host the
games, Hashemi sees little chance of them leaving Iran. “Other countries have
different interpretations of Islam. I am not sure they would be able to hold
the games like us with such observance of Islamic rules,” she said.
Get home by Dusk, Iran Tells Female
Reuters News Agency
October 11, 2005
Female civil servants at
Iran's Culture Ministry and
female journalists at the state newspaper and news agency must be out of the
office by dusk to be with their families, a directive said on Tuesday.
The directive was issued by Culture Minister Mohammad Hossein Saffar-Harandi,
one of a batch of hardline cabinet ministers brought in by President Mahmoud
Ahamdinejad. "Owing to the sensitive role of women in the family and in
raising children, women employees are banned from staying at the office after ," the Tosea newspaper quoted the directive as saying.
The order to get home
early also covers the official IRNA news agency and the state-run Iran daily newspaper.
The directive did not specify what punishments women would face if they
disobeyed the decree. Shirin Ebadi, Iran's 2003 Nobel Peace
Prize winner, said the decree was blatantly discriminatory.
"Women should be free to adjust their working hours based on their pace of
life," the human rights lawyer told Reuters.
One woman reporter
believed it was part of a plan by Ahmadinejad's government to turn the clock
back on the tentative progress made under moderate former President Mohammad
Under eight years of
Khatami's presidency, enforcement of social restrictions such as Islamic dress
codes for women were relaxed. Women entered previously male-only domains such
as taxi driving and the police.
"It is just a
start. They will put more limitations on women. They do not want us to be
socially active," said a female journalist, who asked not to be named. She
works night shifts at the Iran newspaper. "What
about me? I start working at This decree means that
I will be jobless soon."
woman to death by stoning for adultery
Agence France Presse
October 15, 2005
Tehran - An Iranian woman
found guilty of having an extra-marital affair with an Afghan and being an
accomplice in the murder of her husband has been sentenced to death by stoning,
a press report said Saturday.
The Shargh newspaper
identified the woman by her first name of Soghra, and said the killing took
place in the Varamin district south of Tehran.
The woman's lover,
only identified as Ali Reza, was sentenced to death for committing the murder.
Executions by stoning
have been suspended by the head of the judiciary since late 2002, when the
European Union opened long-term trade talks with Iran and made human rights
issues a key condition to negotiations.
The judiciary has
acknowledged that stoning sentences may have been issued by certain courts, but
asserts that they are invariably quashed on appeal or by the Supreme Court --
which has to approve all executions.
Human rights activists
and diplomats have said that while Iran appears to have
respected a moratorium on stoning, there have been cases of minors being
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