Feb 5 2009
Are these the kinds of ‘extraordinary’ Muslims that B. Hussein Obama was talking about in his interview with al-Arabiya?
How do you negotiate with people who live by a 7th Century standard of violence and brutality toward its own citizens?
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Iran’s War on Women’s Rights
ON Oct. 15, the Iranian Ministry of Information arrested Esha Momeni, an Iranian-American student at California State University/Northridge. To this day, she is trapped in Iran by officials who won’t let her leave.
She had gone there to make a documentary about women’s-rights activists – at least 50 of whom have been arrested in the last year, the latest three on Friday in Tehran.
Esha and the others are charged with “endangering national security” as “agents of Western powers” – a routine charge against human-rights activists in Iran. The regime plainly fears that a velvet revolution is underway; to prevent a mass uprising, it has been imprisoning civil-society activists with exactly this charge – participating in a revolution that hasn’t happened.
The campaign’s goal is merely to change Iranian laws that discriminate against women. The members – all Iranian citizens – go to public places to first discuss ordinary people’s experiences with unjust gender practices and laws and then gather signatures on a petition asking parliament to change those laws.
The activists’ demands are minimal: They seek incremental (but irreversible) changes in laws that now consider women to be second-class citizens. The goals include equal rights to divorce and child-custody; equal pay for equal work, and equal inheritance.
This is not a revolt against Islam, or Iran’s Islamic Republic – but only a fair and more-inclusive interpretation of Islamic laws. Many clerics in Iran support this cause.
In the weeks after Esha’s arrest, her father (who lives in Iran with his family) fearlessly interviewed with Iranian and foreign media, professing pride in his daughter and her fight for equality. Then the Ministry of Information officials started threatening Esha’s family – and we never heard from her father again.
The family had to put their home on bail to get her out of the prison – only to find out that the authorities won’t let her leave the country.