By Souad Sbai
The absurd sentence issued by a Tehran Court condemning Nasrin Sotoudeh, a well-known 55-year-old human rights activist, is appalling and represents the 40 years lived by Iranian women under the tyranny of the Khomeinist regime. The multiple accusations against Sotoudeh – who in 2012 received the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought – are, in fact, a hyperbole to be traced back to a single and simple objective: the hijab. To appear in public without a veil and to actively oppose the obligation to wear the veil means for the enlightened Khomeinist judges to have committed the following crimes: conspiracy against national security, propaganda against the State and incitement to corruption and prostitution. Therefore, the threat intrinsic to that piece of cloth is worth 33 years in prison, that are added to the five-year prison terms to which Nasrin was previously been sentenced for conspiring against the State and for insulting the Supreme Guide, Ali Khamenei. In addition, the jailers of the Revolution will have to punish the activist with 148 lashes.
In doing so, Khamenei and company show not only all their ferocity, but also all their weakness: it seems that the survival of the Islamist Republic of Iran depends on the veil, which, falling once and for all, could take away 40 years of violence and abuses. For a regime ideologically based on women’s submission and consequently on their political, social and legal discrimination, it is, therefore, of vital importance to suppress the movement against the mandatory veil launched by thousands of young Iranian women at the end of December 2017. Women who openly supported the online campaigns “My Stealthy Freedom” and “#whitewednesdays” have been repeatedly “harassed by the authorities”, reported the Human Rights Council. If with the exemplary sentence imposed on Sotoudeh, the regime tries to make these women give up, it is totally wrong.
Their courage and heroism continue to challenge the police and the fundamentalist component of the population, despite the attacks suffered during the demonstrations held in public places with their heads uncovered and with the veil about to fall down to earth along with the regime and its representatives. A real nightmare for the Supreme Leader, who with Ibrahim Raeesi’s recent appointment as head of the judiciary – involved in bloody episodes of repression of dissident students – gave an unequivocal signal of his intention to crush this new form of nonviolent opposition , as it happened with the 2009 Green Wave and the subsequent riots
Facing the chilling situation lived by Iranian women – victims of abuse and violations in the domestic sphere who constantly see their executioners go unpunished – it is impossible not to think about the indifference shown by so many women in the West, a few days after International Women’s Day celebrations, and in the complicity between many of these women and the Khomeinist regime, also on the upper floors of the European institutions. Beyond the accusations made by Amnesty International and other non-governmental organizations, Iranian women are fighting their own struggle for rights and freedom, despite the strong tensions that separate the West from the Islamist Republic. On the confrontation table there are terrorism, militias, the nuclear and missile program and all the weapons used by Tehran to threaten the peace and security in the Middle East and in the international community. Meanwhile, human rights are completely absent and ignored; they only appear in some rare rhetorical and circumstantial statement. On the other hand, in a rogue State like Mullah’s Iran, human rights and in particular, women’s rights would be a formidable instrument of pressure to influence the evolution of political and economic relations.
The Iranian women’s question has an explosive potential, abe to produce real changes in or of regime, with positive consequences for peace and security. Therefore, it is time to stop helping Tehran and its Pasdaran to evade the international sanctions and to stop covering their heads in front of the “authorities” of the Islamist Republic: Western women must support Iranian women to make their battle become a Spring, that of all the Iranians finally free of the oppression of the Khomeinist regime.
Enough to help Tehran and its pasdaran to avoid international sanctions; It is enough to cover the head before the “authorities” of the Islamist Republic: the women of the West must offer their support to the Iranian women so that their battle really gets a Spring; the spring of all Iranians finally free from the oppression of the Khomeinist regime.