Their bravery is awe-inspiring. Despite the risk of getting arrested, these women openly opposed the compulsory hijab in Iran. Their names Yasaman Aryani, Monireh Arab-Shahi and Mojgan Keshavarz.
Imagine being jailed for defending the most basic freedom: Freedom to choose what to wear! Elsewhere in the world, these women would have been celebrated for their commitment to women’s rights and feminism.
But in Iran, authorities have sentenced them to years of prison and they are being treated like criminals. As the world is presently grappling with the coronavirus pandemic, let’s not forget about these brave souls who are languishing in prison. Because freedom is not free.The international community should not turn a blind eye to the situation of these women. When female politicians visit Iran and submit to the compulsory hijab (under the pretext that it is the “Iranian culture”), they are also justifying the authorities’ repression of Iranian women. After all, compulsion has never been part of Iranian culture. Rather, it is the hallmark of a repressive and authoritarian system called the Islamic Republic, which has killed tens of thousands of Iranians fighting for freedom.
In the face of coronavirus, the Islamic Republic of Iran initiated a campaign of lies, deceit, and cover-up. They did so in order to hide the depth of the coronavirus tragedy in Iran.
In this CovidCon conference organised by the Human Rights Foundation, Masih Alinejad goes through how early on the Islamic Republic knew about the crisis, but attempted to conceal the facts.
There are at least 10 pieces of evidence showing that the authorities in Iran tried to cover up the coronavirus epidemic. Now, they’re trying to attribute the spread of coronavirus to American sanctions.
After long denying that the coronavirus had hit Iran, the authorities could no longer hide the outbreak. However, even then, they attempted to capitalise on the tragedy and shift the blame to American sanctions despite the fact that Iranian authorities themselves were directly responsible for its spread. By doing so, the Islamic Republic of Iran tries to blur the waters and wash its hands from the criminal negligence and mismanagement if the crisis by blaming the sanctions. As Masih Alinejad said,
“Some in the international community naively think they have to choose between the Islamic Republic and the Trump administration. No! You only have one option: human rights. Islamic Republic committed crimes against humanity”
I had the honor to open up the world premiere of “Women Warriors: Voices of Change,” concert performed by Orchestra Moderne NYC & the talented Amy Andersson. I spoke about the struggle of women around the world & especially the women of Iran who have been unjustly jailed for 10 years just for singing solo or resisting forced hijab.
Masih Alinejad is the founder of the My Stealthy Freedom movement. At Chicago Ideas Week, she shared the story of how she was banned from her home country of Iran for simply being and celebrating herself, and how she was able to overcome to stand in strength—instead of fear—today.