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Thursday, March 4, 2021

Accolades to Iranian women for taking a stand

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Prior to Iran’s election, early reports showed that the presidential race between incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and opposition leader Mir Hossein Moussavi would be closely fought.

While Ahmadinejad had a loyal following of supporters, it was Moussavi who seemed to attract a new breed of voters for Iran: young adults, college students and women.

Some considered Ahmadinejad reflective of the old way of doing things and Moussavi was considered more of a reformer who could bring change to the country.

On June 12, Iranians turned out in record numbers to cast their vote for that country’s president. Though many knew it would be a close race, most were confident that Moussavi would be the victor.

Things didn’t quite work out that way.

Although Moussavi called for the vote counting to stop, citing “blatant violations,” Ahmadinejad was declared winner with 63 percent of the vote. Tens of thousands protested…it was the largest Iran has seen since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Since its onset, there has been much talk about the election – from the accuracy of the count to President Barack Obama’s stance on the issue. What few are talking about however, is the significant role that Iranian women are playing during this political aftermath.

If you look at pictures of the revolution 30 years ago you’ll see bearded men taking a bold stance against the government. Today, Iranian demonstrators are more diverse with women being the majority.

The female activists aren’t meekly declaring their discontent with Iran’s government; rather they are valiantly expressing their views. One CNN report described a woman who abandoned the traditional way Iranian women dress (covering their hair and bodies) by defiantly walking down the street wearing a revealing dress that showed off her hair and body.

The report also quotes a 19-year-old Iranian young woman who says no matter how often she gets beat by police; she’ll continue to stand for what she believes is right.

“When they want to hit me, I say hit. I have been hit so many times, this time doesn’t matter. I just want to help my brothers and sisters.”

Then there’s Neda Agha-Soltan.

The 26-year-old woman was fatally shot in the chest near an anti-government demonstration. Cell phone videos of her bloodied body lying on the ground as bystanders tried to revive her have surfaced on the internet. Her killing is suspected to be by government forces…the fact that Iran’s gun law prohibits private citizens from carrying a handgun further supports this claim.

Though we live worlds apart and probably are more different than we are alike, I can relate to these women’s relentless determination to stand for what they believe is right. There comes a point in all of our lives (men and women) where we get tired of injustice – be it politically, socially, or even professionally. It’s during these adverse times when you want to do all you can to right the wrong. That’s all Agha-Soltan and the countless other women as well as male protesters wanted to do: right the wrong.

The great thing about attempting to right a wrong is that one can never say they failed – even if the outcome isn’t as they anticipated. The only way any of us can fail in anything that we do is when we fail to try. If your actions don’t accomplish anything else, at least you’ve accomplished the ability to self-empower.

I’ll end with the words of President Obama, “Those who stand up for justice are always on the right side of history.”

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