The Iranian Parliament recently issued a statement that they regard the law prohibiting marriage for girls under 10 as un-Islamic and illegal. According to Parliament member Mohammad Ali Isfenani, “We must regard nine as being the appropriate age for a girl to have reached puberty and qualified to get married.”
Over the past few weeks, over 75 girls under 10 were forced to marry much older men. Legalizing this practice would effectively legalize sex between a young child and an over-18 adult.
Nine year olds cannot understand and therefore can’t enter the “strong covenant” of marriage outlined in the Quran. More importantly, their bodies are clearly not ready for sex, let alone child bearing. Many young girls have died from bleeding as a result of being forced into early sex and childbirth. Please sign the petition to tell the Iranian Parliament that child marriage should be illegal!
You have probably seen Golshifteh Farahani on TV or at the movies when she performed with Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie “body of Lies” in 2008. She became famous and the first successful Iranian actress in a Hollywood film. Following her apparition in « Body of Lies », she decided or she rather had to move to France after receiving serious threats in Iran. In spite of her “exile”, Iranians continue to follow her carreer and recently they have been shocked by a photo representing her, hiding her breast. A photo shoot and in particular a video made Iranian people mad at her and thought she gave away her honor and her modesty. The photo shoot features Farahani topless, with her hands hiding her breasts.
Some people in Iran think that her very ‘irresponsible’ act will not allow her to return to Iran now. Some people even said: “I’m ashamed to call you an Iranian.” Others said, “We are really proud of you.” (Nude Iranian movie star ignites firestorm (CNN)).
The Iranian Mullahs did definitely not appreciate that photo taken by Jean-Baptiste Mondino and published in Madame Le Figaro on January 13th. Besides, Iran’s Ministery of Culture and Islamic Guidance would have told Golshifteh Farahani to go and work away, out of Iran, that “she is no longer welcome in her home country” and that “she could offer her artistic services somewhere else” (Iranian actress banned from returning to her home country after posing nude in French magazine).
Over the last few weeks, many groups have been created on social media networks to support her and her fights against dictatorship in Iran and women’s rights in her home country.
Do you think Golshifteh Farahani decided to pose nude to get the attention of the Islamic Republic of Iran despite the consequences? Was it a way to claim her resitance against Islamic oppression in Iran? The Iranian community around the world is clearly divided, either they are really proud to see how brave Golshifteh is or they are ashamed of her and her being Iranian. However, the international community seems to believe in the advance of Iranian liberties and have faith for a certain Hope for Iranian society. Like Aliaa Elmahdy, Golshifteh Farahani might have used her body through this photo to express a clear message to governments and to all people in the world who do not respect gender equality, democracy and freedom.
I say ‘bravo’ to Farahani to fight for her rights, women’s rights in the world and people’s rights in Iran. If more and more brave people struggle for Human rights and respect of political and religious opinions, democracy might come out soon… step by step.
La justice iranienne semble croire que la pendaison pourrait être une alternative à la lapidation interdite depuis 2008 suite à la ratification de l’Iran au Pacte international relatif aux droits civils et politiques. (article 7. Nul ne sera soumis à la torture ni à des peines ou traitements cruels, inhumains ou dégradants. En particulier, il est interdit de soumettre une personne sans son libre consentement à une expérience médicale ou scientifique .) Pacte international relatif aux droits civils et politiques
Revenons tout d’abord en arrière. En 2006 Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani est arrêtée pour adultère et complicité dans le meurtre de son mari. Elle reçoit dans un premier temps une peine de flagellation: 99 coups de fouet sous les yeux de son fils. Puis elle est alors condamnée à la lapidation en 2006. Mais le monde entier est ému par cette nouvelle et se révolte, s’indigne contre cette condamnation. Résultat : la peine est suspendue en 2010. Cependant la justice iranienne ne s’arrête pas là pour autant et étudie la loi islamique pour contourner la mort par lapidation : “Nous ne sommes pas pressés. (…) Nos spécialistes de la loi islamique sont en train d’examiner la condamnation d’Ashtiani pour voir si on peut transformer la peine de lapidation en pendaison”, a déclaré Malek Ajdar Sharifi, chef de la justice de la province de l’Azerbaïdjan oriental, où Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani purge actuellement sa peine.
En Iran selon la Charia, le meurtre, le vol, le viol et l’adultère sont passibles de la peine de mort. « L’Union européenne avait qualifié l’année dernière de “barbare” la condamnation à mort par lapidation, le Vatican avait appelé à la clémence et le Brésil avait offert l’asile politique à Sakineh. » (Le Monde)
L’Iran est le deuxième pays après la Chine à appliquer la peine de mort. En 2010, Amnesty international a recensé au moins 252 exécutions. (Rapport officiel d’Amnesty International : Condamnations à mort et exécutions en 2010).
Sources: Le Monde: L’Iranienne Sakineh, condamnée à la lapidation, pourrait être pendue RFI: La campagne internationale pour sauver Sakineh de la lapidation s’intensifie
Two years ago on June 20th Neda Agha-Soltan, an innocent young woman was shot during the protests in Iran following the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Since that day, she has been seen as a powerful international symbol of the Iranian struggle. Iranian protesters all around the world started wearing T-shirt with Neda’s face and brandishing placards with her face on them.
Neda’s name in Farsi means « voice »: the voice and the spirit of the Iranian Revolution. From her youngest age, Neda was already a rebel and she had the strong character to refuse bans or control. For instance, she fought with school authorities to avoid wearing the tchador and she won that battle. She was the first girl at school not to wear it. She always used to say : « why you don’t really tell people what you think? » She was very brave and she was not scared of anything. However she sadly used to say: « If we live in this country, we cannot live as human beings » plus « as a woman, I can’t even go outside without being covered up.» Neda’s father was very proud of his daughter: « there was not fear in her eyes, I respected her so much for her courage ».
In Iran, women risk a lot if they are seen in public with a man who is not related to them. This is why her hair and body must be always covered every time she is outside, even on the beach. However, in some major cities, women wear colourful headscarves or show a little bit of their hair. But they risk a humiliating arrest at anytime by the police or the notorious Bassijdi Militia.“In many parts of the country, being dressed up in black is the norm. As a woman, you have to disappear in the public eye, you cannot be. The more you attract attention to yourself, the more you are targeted because you are supposed not to be, you are supposed to be invisible”, explains Professor Roya Borounmand. Thus, the control of the regime over women’s body in Iran is a direct attack to their freedom and dignity. The law is very strict for women in many different ways, not only in terms of dress. For instance, they cannot get married without the consent of their father or paternal grandfather. Divorce is the exclusive right of the husband and they automatically have the right to keep the children over 7 years of age, or even younger if the mother marries again. Basically: “when you remarry your lose your child”.
The value of woman’s life is half of man’s life in Iran.
If a woman in Iran lays charges against a man for violence and if he denies, she will be accused of lies: she has no chance of obtaining convictions against the man. Even worse, she could be incriminated for bringing false testimonials. Additionally, Iran has the highest rate of execution in the world as a proportion of the population of the country (see Death Sentences and Executions 2010, a document by Amnesty International). The death penalty is imposed for adultery, possession of drugs, homosexual behaviour or even non-violent protest. There is another striking difference between boys and girls: the age of criminality for a girl is 8 years old whereas it is 14 years old for a boy. If a little girl is sentenced to death, she might go to jail until she is 18 years old to await her execution.
As the video documentary tells us about Neda’s life, she was married to a man she loved in 2004 when she was 21. They were together for almost four years but then they divorced because of cultural differences: he was from the North whereas she was from Teheran. She used to read forbidden books such as The Last temptation of the Christ, by Nikos Kazantzakis. Most of the books she read were by nature considered subversive by the regime. She was very curious and she had a mind willing to know and learn. She went to the University of Teheran to study Islamic philosophy. Before entering into University, women are inspected to check if they have make-up or if they are well dressed according to the rules of the regime. But she quickly gave up some of her courses because, as she told her family, the God they are teaching at University is different from the God she has known since she was a kid. She said that the God they were presenting was a God of revenge whereas the God she knew was a compassionate and loving God. She had the thought that the regime had confiscated religion and turned it into an ideology, they deprived Islam of everything that makes religion human. Neda dreamt about living outside of Iran even only for one day. Therefore, she started to go to a language course to learn Turkish. Neda visited Turkey a few times working as a tour guide, and she enjoyed beeing free to act and dress up as she wished. Neda loved dancing and was keen on the singer Googoosh. She learnt Arabic dance when she could be free behind closed doors at her house back in Iran. Like many girls in the world, Neda was just dreaming about fashion, being able to live the way she wanted to live, reading the books she wanted to and giving love.
Neda is portrayed as a heroine with exceptional courage and strength.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected as the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran in June 2009 even if the whole process was suspect from the beginning of the vote. According to this documentary, he was paying people to vote for him and promised to build schools, roads all over the country (construction work were begun but quickly abandoned when Ahmadinejad was re-elected). He claimed to poor people: “we promise to bring water to your village”. According to Professor Ali Ansari (Professor of Iranian History at University of St.Andrews), it was an election under the rules established by the Islamic Republic of Iran. However, for the first time in Iran, there was a debate preceding the vote accepted by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Consequently, the Young generations were hoping that something was changing in their country, as was Neda. They were celebrating that debate in the streets already saying “Ahmadinejad bye bye”. Neda’s sister tearfully said: “It’s very sad when you see this joyful week and what finally happened”. The atmosphere in the week was euphoric, people really thought that the situation could change. It was a non-violent demonstration down the streets. During the vote, suspicion started. In some vote offices, there was no representation for the opposite candidates, people could only find Ahmadinejad’s name. Later on, the Bassidji militia started a massive arrest of political activists all over the country. Without being a big surprise, Ahmadinejad was elected with 60% of the votes. Neda was very angry about that election: the election was fake. This is why the day after the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Neda joined the people in the protest. She thought that Iranian people were insulted. Millions of people on June 15th demonstrated peacefully, displaying their disagreement in the streets. All the categories of the people were featured in the crowd: men, women, young people, religious, non-religious, families, very old people. Everybody was there to claim their protest in silence. The participation of women was absolutely exceptional and they were at the forefront of the protest. Neda symbolised a generation: she was a young girl trying to get more freedom. Neda was in the protest everyday. One day though, three Bassidji women approached her and said: “Dear, please don’t come up looking so beautiful because the Bassidji men target beautiful girls and they will shoot you”. Beauty is a danger to these fundamentalist men. They cannot control themselves in front of beauty and they are scared that by looking at beauty they will lose their relationship with God. “If you look at the beauty, the devil will come to your mind” think some men as explains the Iranian photographer Reza Deghati. So as these men cannot control themselves, they prefer killing the temptation.
On June 16th, 4 days after the election, violence was starting to show up not from the demonstrators but from the police. Therefore, Iranian and in particular foreign journalists were clearly not welcome to stay, they were beaten by Ahmadinejad’s men. Nevertheless, thanks to Youtube and social media networks in general, people became citizen journalists and posted videos of what was really happening in the streets and the violence from the regime of Ahmadinejad. People started to say: “Our leader is a dictator, you should be removed”, “Death to the dictator”. Neda’s mother did not want her daughter to go protesting again because it was getting more and more dangerous but Neda told her mum: “I have to go, I have to go”. Everyone in the streets that day were clearly declaring war on the Islamic republic of Iran and were risking violent consequences from the regime itself. Neda knew all the risks but she was not afraid. Neda called her mother every half an hour to reassure her and said at some point: “it’s like hell, I’ve never seen so many government forces in my life before.” A few minutes after talking to her mother on the phone, the worst happened: Neda was shot in her chest. No one could save her explained a doctor who was with her that day. It was such a tragic moment and no one could help this young and innocent woman, Neda Agha-Soltan. A few weeks later, the Iranian regime first said that she went to Greece to hide herself, then they said she was killed by a BBC journalist or even by a CIA agent.
The Iranian poet Ahmad Shamlou wrote: “Our dignity has been bartered, we had all the words in the world, yet we did not utter the only word that matters: FREEDOM”.
Rest in Peace Neda