The Ultimate Unveiling of Iranian Women

By FARZANEH MILANI

Have you considered the gender makeup of the two opposing camps in Iran today?

On one side, is an all-male cabal of gun-totting, club-wielding men — the Army, the Revolutionary Guard and the volunteer militia — supported by the pantheon of the highest government offices in the land — the Supreme Leadership, the Presidency, and membership in the Guardian Council — all monopolized by men.

Like the Taliban in Afghanistan, the military junta in Sudan, the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) in Algeria, the ruling elite in Saudi Arabia, this faction advocates a strict separation of men and women. They want the physical space and with it the social order separated based on gender. They want to segregate mosques, schools, universities, beaches, and buses.

During his term as the mayor of Tehran, President Ahmadinejad proceeded to institute separate elevators for men and women in municipal offices.

On the other side, is a sea of lawfully demonstrating men and women marching side by side and shoulder to shoulder. Holding hands, green in color, hopeful in outlook, vibrant and non-violent, they fight bullets and batons with open hands and support Mir Hossein Moussavi, who is often accompanied by his wife, Zahra Rahnavard.

In this camp, there is a massive and unprecedented presence of women and a heightened desire for gender equality and integration.

Traditionally, the Iranian nation was made up of two societies — one male, one female — separate and unequal. The worlds of men and women were kept apart by confining women to designated spaces and restricting their physical mobility. Women’s place, it was argued, was not public but private; not out in the streets but inside the home.

A synonym for the word “woman” in the Persian language is Pardeh Neshin: “She who sits behind the curtain / the veil / the screen.” The expression perpetuates, even linguistically, the cultural ideal of woman’s absence in public. Pardeh Neshin implies enclosure, invisibility, and controlled mobility, all associations that are inseparable from conventional definitions of femininity in Iran.

For centuries, masculine honor and feminine propriety demanded that a woman maintain public anonymity. She enveloped her body in a veil, covered her voice with silence, and, ideally, did not intrude into the outside world.

Western travelers to Iran in the 18th and 19th centuries often commented on the uncanny absence of women from the public domain. By the same token, Iranians who traveled to Western countries were shocked by the presence of women — unveiled no less — in the streets.

It was finally in the mid-19th century when pioneering Iranians — women and men — began to argue against gender apartheid. They were prompted by religious reform movements, encouraged by forces of modernity, exasperated by the injustice of sex-segregation, frustrated by the cultural, political and economic damages it caused.

Unsurprisingly, the path to integration has been strewn with difficulties, its cost exorbitant, its process long, even bloody. Whereas some welcomed desegregation, others blamed all the ills of society on “parading” women. They saw them as the polluters of native and authentic culture, a tool of imperialist conspiracies, the primary accomplices of the superpowers that exploited Iran.

While the 1905 Constitutional Revolution advocated the entry of women in the public arena, the 1979 Islamic Revolution, in its early days, attempted to “purify” the public space of women. At times, women’s public emergence was considered a shortcut to modernity, at other times, the symbol of a lost order; now seen as a badge of national honor, it was then believed to be an emblem of collective shame.

However, through all the mixed messages — the confusion and disappointment and frustration — women used all their ingenuity to slip across traditional lines, overstep limits and stride onto forbidden ground. Beginning with religious activism in the mid-19th century, and expanding into politics, they increasingly asserted and inserted themselves in public. They stayed sure and confident and never gave up their belief in human rights, their dream of integration, their desire for democracy.

The recent protests in Iran were about elections rigged, hopes of reform dashed, dreams of democracy shattered. Yet, the vital and unparalleled presence of women among the demonstrators and their conspicuous absence among the repressors cannot be overlooked. It speaks volume about each camp and their respective worldview and agenda.

Ironically, the thugs, who would want to revive and preserve a segregated Iran and beat women behind tall walls back to their “proper place,” undermine their own agenda. Such brutality has focused the global gaze on Iranian women — the ultimate act of unveiling.

Farzaneh Milani is professor of Persian literature and Women Studies at the University of Virginia.

Copyright © 2009 Farzaneh Milani – distributed by Agence Global

Views: 151

Replies to This Discussion

I recently read a book about the last 200 years or so of Iran's history, that pretty much sacys the same thing. It's also interesting to consider, and "compare and contrast" those forces in Western society who blame "feminism" and "feminists" for modern social ills, and propose turning women into "happy housewives" and the like.
Anne G
One question that arises (if one can still say that) is where have Euro-American feminists been on the Middle East file? Burkas, polygamy, sequestering, stonings, acid in the faces of schoolgirls, and nary a peep from our brave, "strong" feminists. Long time feminist stalward Phyllis Chesler mentioned this in The Death of Feminism (2006) and got tarred and feathered by the sorority.
In The Persian Night: Iran Under the Khomeinist Revolution by Amir Tahiri, there are two chapters on women. Here are a few of his points:

The first issue that turned Khomeini into a political activist was the enfranchisement of women in 1962. Taheri says that “Khomeini...warned that giving women the right to vote and seek election amounted to an attack on Islam.” (p. 106) Taheri quotes Ayatollah Ardebili, the Chief Justice for many years, who said that “A woman’s basic duty is to be a slave to her husband.” (108) “The dean of the Alzahra University, an institution for women, went further, saying: ‘Women should avoid thinking about matters [related to] the rights of women and men. This is the task of the clergy and religious scholars, not of women.’” (108)

Taheri points out that “under Khomeinism, tens of thousands of women were fired from their posts in the public sector on a variety of pretexts.” (108) One reason for these measures is the terrible problem of women’s hair: “In 1981, Abol-Hassan Benisadr, the first President of the Islamic republic, announced that scientific research had shown that women’s hair emits rays that drive men insane with lust.” (110) The solution? An obligatory covering: Taheri comments on the imposition of the hoodlike hijab: “This fake Islamic hijab is thus nothing but a political prop, a weapon of visual terrorism; it is a symbol of a totalitarian ideology...and is designed to promote gender apartheid.” (111) The well-known “moderate” Rafsanjani said, “a strand of woman’s hair emerging from under the hijab is a dagger drawn towards the heart of Islam.” (112) Taheri concludes, “the purpose of the hijab is not really to protect women from supposedly lustful men; the purpose is to deny women their rights and put them in a subordinate position.” (121)

One of the well-known features of Shia Islam is the institution of mut’ah, the union with a “temporary wives.” A man can contract with any number of women for a temporary union, from one hour to a hundred years. Some foreigners may liken this to prostitution, but Ayatollah Khomeini judged that “men who take temporary wives...are performing ‘a high religious duty’.” (122) However, be assured that there are constraints: the “woman” involved, according to Khomeini, must be at least nine years old, just as for a permanent marriage. (122) Thus a man may offer a woman a certain amount of money to enter into a temporary union, and, hey presto, conjugal love! Some other authors have asserted that today such unions are very popular with, and lucrative for college girls and graduates in Tehran. And all kosher, oops, I mean halal.

On the basis of the Abu-Hureirah hadith that the Prophet says the prayer is ruined by women, donkeys, and dogs, many Islamic Republic commentators “have pronounced women to be unclean, less than human, and even the incarnation of satanic energy on earth. The literature of Islam is full of lengthy papers on whether or not women have souls!” (127)
Another Senseless Arrest

By LEILA MOURI in New York | 19 July 2009

[TEHRAN BUREAU] Comment At first I thought I had it wrong. I was not yet properly awake when I checked the headlines on my iPhone yesterday. The news of the arrest of Shadi Sadr, a distinguished women’s rights activist and a human rights lawyer, was too horrifying and close to home to be true.

I have known Shadi since 2001, when I started volunteering as a journalist for “Women in Iran,” a news website about Iranian women. She was the editor. As posted at the top of the website, “Women in Iran” followed this motto: “Women’s Rights is Human Rights.” It was the first website based in Iran that covered issues of women’s social, political, economic, legal and human rights inside the country. In a short time, under her supervision, the website became the only reliable source of news on these topics.

Shadi and a group of other women’s rights activists were on their way to Friday prayers in Tehran, when several members of Iran’s security forces snatched her and forced her into a car. These men were lebas-shakhsi, which means they do not wear police uniforms. In Persian, lebas-shakhsi means “dressed in civilian clothes,” or plainclothes officer. Wearing regular clothes helps them blend into the crowd.

Her friends tried unsuccessfully to help Shadi as she screamed and tried to escape. Her manteau and headscarf, which had come off in the struggle, were left behind.

Shadi was allowed to call her husband and talk to her 10-year old daughter. She told them that she was all right. Based on this conversation, her husband said he believed that she had been taken to Evin Prison, in north Tehran. Some hours later, members of the security police went through Shadi’s office and also searched her home. They seized some documents and both her personal computer and her husband’s.

This was not the first time that Shadi has been arrested. The government also arrested her in 2007, along with 33 other women’s rights activists, while protesting in front of the Revolutionary Court calling for the release of their friends, who were on trial at the time.

In fact, for at least ten years now, Shadi has been at the forefront of the struggle for human rights and women’s rights in Iran. As a lawyer, she represented many women who were sentenced to stoning. She was able to save the lives of some of them. She initiated the “Stop Stoning Forever” campaign and the Meydaan website, which also covered women’s rights issues. Her campaign against stoning was so successful that the Judiciary Committee in Parliament has taken a major step toward removing this punishment from the Penal Code; the bill awaits ratification in parliament.

Shadi Sadr was also the head of the Rahi Institution, which provided assistance to women who have been victims of violence. The Rahi Institute also provided legal and economic assistance, as well as psychiatric and social services to these women.

Shadi also represented other women’s rights activists, who have been under severe pressure over the last four years, especially since Mahmood Ahmadinejad has become president. They have been repeatedly attacked, increasingly put under arrest and held in solitary confinement for weeks at a time. They have been denied access to lawyers and subjected to severe interrogations.

Shadi won the Ida B. Wells Award for Bravery in Journalism in May 2004. As a person who has worked closely with Shadi for years, I have seen this bravery exhibited firsthand. I know I’ve learned so much from her myself. This is a woman who takes initiative, but also exhibits a great deal of patience. I am still in shock from the news. I don’t know why they would subject someone like Shadi to such brutality.

I hope to receive news of her release soon. I’d like to hear that she has safely returned home. I know Darya misses her mother very much and is in great need of her embrace.

Copyright © 2009 Tehran Bureau
22 Jul 2009 National Post A12

Confronting Tehran’s Vicious misogyny

byTAREK FATAH

When the Prague Spring f ailed i n 1 968, few people believed that the seeds of dissent that had been crushed under the weight of Soviet tanks would blossom 20 years later to bring about the demise of the U.S.S.R. itself. A similar summer of discontent and rebellion has blossomed in Tehran in 2009, and I would venture to say that, this time around, it will not take two decades for the ossified state structure to come crashing down.

The reason: This time, it is the mothers and daughters of Iran who have rebelled against the Islamic Republic of Iran and have come out in the streets to lead the men.

For 30 years, an entire nation has been subjected to imprisonment, torture, murder and — unnoticed by the world — the institutional rape of its daughters, all in the name of Islam. No other dictatorial society, not even the Saudis, have used rape as a tool of subjugation as the Iranian ruling ayatollahs have. Perversely, it has been dressed up as an act of piety and religiosity.

This truth is beginning to come out in the open. A serving member of the Iranian vigilante Basiji militia reportedly has told Sabina Amidi, a freelance reporter for the Jerusalem Post, about his enforced participation in the rape of young Iranian girls prior to their execution. The Basiji enforcer disclosed that the practice was justified by his superiors under the dubious proposition that, under sharia law, “it is illegal to execute a young woman, regardless of her crime, if she is a virgin.”

To circumvent this, Amidi’s source reports, the mullahs would arrange a forced wedding of the young girls to prison guards on the night before the execution. “The young girl is forced to have sexual intercourse with a prison guard — essentially raped by her ‘husband.’ ”

The report has not been verified. But those of us who long have followed the harrowing tales coming out of Iran find it entirely credible. Indeed, there are many precedents, as described below. But we also know that this story will be labelled as one more attempt by the “Zionists” to portray Iran in a bad light. This one-size-fits-all accusation has silenced numerous critics of the Iranian regime.

In the early days of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the rape-execution of young Iranian democracy activists was rampant. Let me introduce to you, for instance, Soraya Abolfathi, who was only 20-years old when she was picked up by Iranian Revolutionary Guards for participating in a demonstration against Ayatollah Khomeni on August 19, 1981. She was taken to Tabriz prison where, during her 34-day detention, she was tortured repeatedly to pressure her to give up her friends. She refused. On Sept. 28, 1981, she was executed by a firing squad. However, it is believed the night before her death, she was forcibly wed to a mullah in a “pleasure marriage,” the ensuing act of rape serving to ensure she did not die a virgin.
Virgins, the mullahs believe, are guaranteed a place in paradise, and raping young girls ensures they go to hell.

The systemic nature of Iran’s use of rape as an instrument of punishment is repugnant. Yet amazingly, the Iranian regime has supporters here in Canada — even within the same left-wing and feminist groups that can be relied on to stand up for women’s rights whenever they are endangered in the West.

They should know better. It is not just Iranian women who have been raped and killed at the hands of Iran’s murderous regime. One of our own endured this indignity, yet few are willing to speak out.

I am talking about Zahra Kazemi a Canadian photojournalist who was arrested, tortured, raped and then murdered by the mullahs, yet is forgotten conveniently by all those who say it is their business to speak against rape as an instrument of war.

Within the Muslim community, there was an absolute denial of what happened to Kazemi. On a TV show, for instance, a vice-president of the Canadian Arab Federation seemed to apologize for the Iranian regime, strenuously denying that she was raped. T hi s d e s p i t e t he fact that Shahram Azam, a f or mer military staff physician stated that he had examined Kazemi’s body and observed t hat Kazemi showed obvious signs of brutal rape and torture, including a skull fracture, broken nose, crushed toe, missing fingernails, and broken fingers.

It seems the women of Iran have had it with the mullahs. It is time for all Canadians to come out and stand with their sisters, for history will judge them harshly if the freedom they seek for themselves, they deny to the daughters of Iran.

Tarek Fatah is author of Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State. He is also co-host of Strong Opinions, which can be heard at 3 p.m. on CFRB
Alien Nation

By KAMIN MOHAMMADI | 1 August 2009

[TEHRAN BUREAU] ‘Now perhaps the world will know us better.’ So said one of my cousins and best friends in Iran, my almost daily contact since the election results were announced. We agreed that it was the only real hope that we could salvage from the current situation, one that we both fear will lead to nothing but more bloodshed and misery in our country as two titans of the Islamic regime fight it out for supremacy and control of the country.

‘Perhaps at last the world will realise that we are not all like Ahmadinejad. That we are normal people like them…’

It’s a noble hope and one that I sincerely share. But the truth is, we are not like ‘them’. The rest of the world that Iranians refer to means basically the West and we cannot ever be like the people in the West for the simple reason that they have luxuriated in their freedom for decades, even centuries, while us Iranians have instead lived through millennia of tyranny and subjugation and struggle. We continue to live under such tyranny and the fight for freedom and self-determination is as individual in my country as it is societal. Whether living in or outside Iran, we are all affected by the upheaval of the last 30 years, of the revolution that toppled the Shah and the results of centuries of Western interference in our country’s affairs.

Whether living inside or outside Iran, we all — to a greater or lesser degree — wear a mask, have two personalities, split ourselves into public and private selves. We are, essentially, alienated from others under our charm and spirit and propensity for laughing, dancing and having fun. We are split because ‘they’ cannot possibly know us and what we have lived — and continue to live — every day. And for us it is simply too complicated to explain so instead we don the mask.

Two years ago, I spent half a year living in Iran. After a decade of shuttling back and forth, I finally stayed for longer than a few weeks. I had my own flat, a busy social life and an array of vivid silk headscarves which I learnt to wear as stylishly as the intimidatingly supermodel-like young girls strutting around town. I worked and wrote in my tower and watched Tehran’s flock of bright green parrots swoop through the skies at 4 o’clock every afternoon from my desk. I visited government offices wearing open high-heeled sandals with exposed ankles and bright pink nail polish, only realising my law-breaking gaffe when the gaze of everyone who greeted me slid silently to my feet. I dated and was shocked when one of my dates tried to kiss me in the back of the cab dropping us home after a party. The driver averted his eyes and the doorman of my building never commented on how many male visitors I received — having been brought up the West, I am used to having platonic friendships with men, but in Iran, even in liberal circles, no-one can still quite believe that a man and a woman alone could be doing anything other than having sex.

Despite a decade of frequent visits, I was still an innocent in the complex web of realities that is Iranian society, and my innocence was what got me through unscathed. But after six months in Iran and four years of Ahmadinejad’s rule, even I have lost my innocence.

I returned to London with a heavy heart leaving behind someone I was passionately in love with. We had no specific plans to be together — like many young Iranians, my lover was determined to rebuild his country from the inside, declaring that he would rather be cleaning toilets in Iran than lording it in the West — but we had started a dialogue about the future, a conversation that continued after my return to London, one in which we were delicately examining our options. Then one day, that conversation abruptly ended, quite literally.

Soon after arriving back in London, having rushed home at the appointed hour for a phone call, I didn’t hear from him. I sat in all night and tried not to be annoyed. I spent another two days trying not to be cross and insecure, trying to play it cool, until finally on the fourth day I rang him. He picked up immediately and his response to my rather snide greeting was urgent and short.

‘We cannot speak,’ he said quickly. ‘I have wanted to tell you but I have had some trouble. Intelligence have been asking questions about me, my boss warned me the other day that I am being watched and my phone is probably tapped. I don’t know why or what will happen. I am scared. I love you.’ And with that he hung up.

For the next six months I had virtually no word from him. All my questions froze on my lips. I had to go against my every instinct — to call, to agitate, to rush to Iran and spirit him out — in order to try and protect him. Bar a couple of formal phone calls, when birthdays gave us an excuse to ring each other briefly, we didn’t speak, and even when we did, I had to strain to try to interpret his banal words, which he picked carefully so I could read between the lines. It was a rude lesson in Persian subtlety and strained my Western directness and lack of nuance to its limits.

For weeks, even months at a time, I had no idea if he was in jail, being tortured or even dead. I didn’t even know if he had been taken in for questioning, if he was still working, living breathing, walking the same paths we had walked together. I didn’t know and there was no way I could find out. Worst of all, I didn’t know if the ‘trouble’ he was in was connected with me and the research he had helped me carry out, travelling together in the process in one of Iran’s most dangerous regions. The only thing he had ascertained was that this ‘trouble’ had something to do with Western friends, and given I am also a journalist, there was a lot for me to feel guilty and responsible for.

Now that I wanted desperately to speak out and wield my pen to some good use, I had to bite my tongue and sit on my hands. To this day I don’t know what happened to him in those dark months although we are confident enough now to speak occasionally although of course, the hope of our love has died in the process and we are back to being dear friends.

The worst of it was that no-one understood.

In the West, such stories smack of adventure and romance, even eroticism. But in reality they are nothing but painful. For months I went to bed in tears and woke up in tears. I spent all day trying to rein in my feverish imagination and no matter how much I tried to explain the situation to my Western friends, I could never quite satisfactorily answer their questions, or make them understand. I went through those months wearing a mask of normality, my Western persona on display, my peculiarly Iranian sadness locked up inside. It was hard.

I remember the first time soon after when I heard that one of my friends had been arrested and taken to Evin prison’s notorious 209 wing — the section reserved for political prisoners and run not by the prison authorities, but by the Intelligence Agency. She had been at a peaceful demonstration protesting the arrest of other women activists, all members of the one Million Signatures Campaign in which women — and some men too — took a petition calling for equality in the law for women from door to door, explaining and educating women in their rights in the process.

I was in my flat in London reading a report on the arrests when her name jumped out at me. I started to ring friends frantically, to feel rising up inside me the cocktail of fury, frustration and fear that Ahmadinejad’s four years in power have made me so familiar with. What could I do? Was it better for them in jail if we spoke out on their behalf in the West, or would that just lead to more trouble for them and accusations of being Western spies? Yet again I sat on my hands, and I eventually picked myself up and took myself off to an evening class I was late for.

Walking through Soho and Covent Garden, watching the early evening drinkers gather outside pubs, laughing and drinking, I couldn’t have felt more like an alien, walking the familiar streets of London while all my thoughts were in Iran. Tears poured down my face and fear for my friend gripped me, but I went to my class anyway because what else could I do? I arrived late and the teacher gave me a dirty look. I apologised for my tardiness but didn’t try to explain. Because in 21st-century London, how can you explain such things?

I remember the day when I opened an email from a friend in Iran saying, ‘I have a few weeks off, what are you doing this summer?’ I wrote back inviting him to London and two days later, he was installed on my sofa, where he stayed for a month. I had always admired him, an Iranian like me whose family had fled during the revolution. They had gone to America and eventually, armed with his Ivy League education, he had decided to go back to live in Iran, where he had spent the last years building up a successful business and using any opportunity he could to try to better relations between his two countries, at some risk to himself.

The risk had come home to roost and after four months of interrogations by Intelligence and psychological cat-and-mouse games, he had finally swapped a paranoid life in his lovely mountain-view flat in Tehran for a month of free breathing on my lumpy sofa in London. Many nights we sat up into the early hours, talking and listening to Persian music, sometimes dancing, sometimes crying. He broke down when he told me that he was beginning to think he could no longer live in Iran, that he was contemplating giving up his dream of improving our country.

‘People are changing, they are being tainted by this regime, our culture is being eroded. Everyone has a hand in everyone else’s pocket and ok, we have always had corruption in Iran, but it was something people tried to hide. Now they boast of it. The mullahs have skewed our moral compass and I am not sure I want to bring children up in this society any more.’

He was one of the lucky ones, armed with an American passport, a healthy bank account and an education that would see him walking into any job he wanted in the West. But the one job he really wanted, running the company he had spent years building, he had to walk away from. When he left to go to America I sobbed because, for all the pain of the situation, we had at least understood each other.

On my last visit to Iran, one of my uncles drove me to the airport when I was leaving. As we sat and had a final tea together, he started to talk to me about life in the Islamic Republic. This man, now a grandfather, for me will always be the handsome youth at whose wedding I was a bridesmaid in the 1970s. He had a thick moustache and wore a white suit like John Travolta’s in Saturday Night Fever, his bride had cascading hair woven through with flowers and their wedding reception was held in the glitziest disco in Tehran.

She died during the Iran-Iraq war, leaving him with three small children and, after a decade alone, he married again and seemed happy in his life. He had recently been to Europe for business and had managed to take a few extra days to come to London to see us. It had been his first trip West since the revolution and, as we sipped our teas at Mehrabad Airport, he started to confide in me, much to my embarrassment and no doubt his too, proud man that he is. But confide he did, in that way I have become accustomed to Iranians doing with me, trusted family or old friend yet an outsider who would take their secrets home with me rather than sit and gossip in Tehran.

No-one really wants to do this but their hearts are so full, they must spill out some of the worries lodged there in order to go on. And what he told me was that on his visit to Europe, he had felt like an alien. Looking, walking and talking just like all the other people, but, after 30 years of Islamic rule, after all the daily compromises he has had to make with his soul, his conscience, his very being in order to survive the regime and even prosper, he felt so different to all the people living as people should — in freedom — that he had felt locked up inside himself, unable to break the mask, unable to relate to anyone or allow himself to be understood.

‘Kamin jan,’ he said to me as I tried to contain his confidences, ‘we here, we look like human beings, but we are aliens. We are not like other people. I realised this in Europe. There is a gulf because they simply cannot understand what we go through every single day of our lives in order to survive this regime.’

The regime has ignored the people for so long, has so vociferously refused to listen to their hearts’ desires, that they are now willing to risk arrest, injury, even death, just to lighten the load that fills their hearts. They simply can’t take any more, they have spilled over. Like everyone else, the people of Iran want to walk down the street holding hands with their lover, laughing and shaking their hair in the wind. They want to have a stake in their country and a say in how it will be run. But whether inside or outside Iran, the hardships of the last 30 years, compounded by the last four years of Ahmadinejad’s rule, have made sure that we Iranians, no matter how we much we integrate and succeed and prosper, we contain such extraordinary experiences that we cannot possibly be really like you.

Kamin Mohammadi’s first book, a family memoir and modern history of Iran, is slated for publication in the spring of 2010.

Copyright © 2009 Tehran Bureau
Cleric: Not short on men, no need for women ministers

Asr Iran | August 22, 2009

Seyyed Mostafa Tabatabayinejad, a member of the Combatant Clerics faction of Majlis, slammed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s decision to appoint three female ministers to his cabinet, saying there is “not a shortage of men” in the Islamic Republic.

“If Mr. Ahmadinejad believes himself to be a Principlist, he must reconsider his decision to appoint female ministers,” Tabatabayinejad said.

“The sources [of emulation] have inferred from juristic views that there is religious [juristical] doubt about the presence of female ministers. Therefore the Majlis and government must consider themselves [duty] bound to comply with the views of the sources.”

He went on to say that as male ministers had not been successful in the ministries of health, education, and welfare, “how can it be expected of women to accomplish anything?”

“In the Islamic Republic there is not a shortage of able-bodied men for us to resort to appointing female ministers,” said Tabatabayinejad.

From Tehran Bureau
MP: Qom Ayatollahs will not stand for female minister

Tabnak | August 21, 2009

Mohammad-Taqi Rahbar, head of the Majlis Combatant Clerics faction, said sources of emulation and scholars in Qom want Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to reconsider his decision to appoint female ministers.

“Based on the information I obtained, many of the scholars and sources of emulation, including Ayatollahs [Ali] Safi-Golapyegani and [Naser] Makarem-Shirazi, have juristical doubt about the appointment of female ministers and would like Ahmadinejad to reconsider his decision.”

“Although appointing female ministers is a new idea floated by Ahmadinejad, the juristical doubt about the capabilities and managerial skills of women must be taken into account by the government,” the Isfahan representative said.

“Previously when the issue of increasing female inheritance was discussed in Majlis, the sources of emulation in Qom voiced their disapproval, but the Supreme Leader was in favor of the plan and therefore Majlis complied with the Leader’s wish.”

Rahbar went on to note that the sources had not announced their official stance on appointing female ministers. “If the sources make known their official stance on the issue and should the Leader remain silent, Majlis will take under advisement the views of the sources in giving votes of confidence to the female ministers,” he said.

From Tehran Bureau
"Cleaning Up After the Men," http://tehranbureau.com/cleaning-men/ discusses the new Iranian Minister of Health, who is a female, the first Islamic Republic female minister. The article questions whether this is a victory for feminism.
"Ayatollah Safi wants segregated universities"

Tabnak | Oct. 19, 2009

"'I hope that we will be able to have all-girl universities throughout the country so that our girls will be able to study the fields beneficial for women.
"'Our universities must teach our girls the science of good housekeeping and raising children properly.'"

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tehranbureau/2009/10/select...
Fariba Pajooh, still in jail

by SETAREH SABETY in Nice, France
03 Nov 2009 21:44

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tehranbureau/2009/11/fariba...

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