With the abrupt decision by Biden to withdraw from Afghanistan, people of this country are shocked and heart-broken. After 20 years, Taliban is back and contrary to their claims that “they have changed”, many Afghans, especially women whom we have talked to persisted in telling us that the Taliban have not changed, but are rather deceiving the world with this rhetoric.

Afghan women will bear the brunt of Taliban’s infamous brutality. In the aftermath of Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, many Afghan women took to social media to air their frustration, sorrow and hopelessness.

One of these videos belongs to this 23-year-old Afghan woman whose teary-eyed video that we subtitled (https://twitter.com/AlinejadMasih/status/1426195246694780930) went viral. In that video she said “We do not count because we were born in Afghanistan. We will die in history slowly”.

We have interviewed this young Afghan girl. Just like many other Afghan women, she was quick to point out that the international community must not believe Taliban’s charm offensive that it had changed. “Do not believe the lies of Taliban. I’m 23. Taliban forcibly marry women like me to their fighters. The spokesman of Taliban has an account on Twitter. For what? For spreading their lies in the world”, she said with teary eyes.

In this ground-breaking interview, she imploded the international community not to remain indifferent to the plight of Afghan women as their dreams have been shattered.

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Opinion by Roya Hakakian

Roya Hakakian is the author of the memoir “Journey From the Land of No: A Girlhood Caught in Revolutionary Iran.”

Last fall, Iranian authorities arrested Alireza Alinejad, a 45-year-old father of two, who has not broken any laws, not even according to the officials who jailed him. There would be nothing newsworthy about yet another unwarranted arrest in Iran, except that this one involves an unusual story of familial love, with a brother making a profound sacrifice for the sake of his sister.

Amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, Iran has temporarily freed more than 50,000 prisoners to combat the disease’s spread in the country’s crowded jails, but Alinejad remains in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran, vulnerable to covid-19 infection. At his first court hearing last week, the judge would not specify the charges against him and refused to grant parole. According to Alinejad’s defense attorney, the judge’s questioning focused on his sister’s activities.

His sister is Masih Alinejad, an exiled journalist and prominent critic of the clerical regime’s human rights abuses. She fled Iran in 2009 and has lived since 2014 in New York, where she hosts a TV show on the Voice of America’s Persian service. Her followers on social media, 3.5 million on Instagram alone, outnumber those of the country’s president and the supreme leader combined.

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Masih Alinejad is spearheading a broader movement that both unifies and amplifies the disparate strains of dissent now percolating within Iran.

by Ilan Berman

In late July, Mousa Ghazanfarabadi, the conservative head of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court, announced publicly that the Iranian regime had identified a new “hostile government” with whom interaction was henceforth banned, punishable by up to a decade in prison. That entity wasn’t the Trump administration, which has launched an escalating campaign of economic pressure against the Islamic Republic over the past year. That entity wasn’t Israel, which Iranian officials have blamed over the years for everything from promoting global homosexuality to using pigeons as nuclear spies. Rather, the target of the blacklisting was a petite forty-two-year-old Iranian-American activist named Masih Alinejad.

At first glance, Alinejad may not seem like a particularly formidable political adversary. Slight and demure, she is unfailingly polite in person and easygoing in demeanor—at least when she isn’t speaking about the Iranian regime. A former reporter who worked for reformist news outlets before becoming fundamentally disenchanted with clerical rule, her personal story is similar to that of many others who have chosen—or been forced—to flee Iran in the four decades since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

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A powerful woman, a protest movement, and the political interests impeding them.

I mages of Iranian women standing on utility boxes and ripping off their mandatory hijab have become the lasting image of ongoing protests in the Islamic Republic. And yet, as officials in the Trump administration have embraced those images and vocally supported the women, the discomfort that Western liberals have the idea of regime change in the country, and how that affects their interpretation of hijab protests, has been on full display.

A recent memoir by Masih Alinejad, The Wind in My Hair, shows us just how misguided that cynicism is. Covering her head against her wishes was one of the simpler cruelties she endured in the Islamic Republic. She was kicked out of high school for asking witty questions of her teachers, later imprisoned, and separated from her son by a retaliatory custody arrangement followed by forced exile from the Islamic Republic.

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by: Gretchen Mullen

In mid-summer of 2017, a social media campaign called White Wednesdays began sharing through Facebook a coordinated effort among Iranians to protest the compulsory hijab by wearing a white hijab on Wednesdays. In this way, women and men who were like-minded could recognize one another by the symbolic color. From there, it has progressed to women sharing photos without their hijabs and now even walking down the street hijab-free and sharing videos of their experiences.

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