EMMA-magazine’s editorial board, and the esteemed mayor of Berlin!
And peace and greetings to those that have expressed solidarity with Iranian “woman! life! freedom!” movement and with Nasrin Sotoudeh, an Iranian Lawyer. My lawyer when I was in prison. Nasrin, a friend, my friend who gave me these beautiful jewelries - this ring, this necklave, these earrings - to me for my 65. birthday. Yes I am a 65 years old woman activist in Diaspora since 13 years ago, far away from my motherlands, my comrades and my son! Because I am a woman’s movement militant in exile!
In fact, the struggle against hijab in Iran has a background about two hundred years old. Since the Qajar dynasty era and before the Constitutional era, when a woman poet named Tahira Qara Al-Ain, a member of Bab movement, appeared in an official assembly next to a large group of men without hijab. Her presence without hijab caused some men to injure their throats out because of the "Shameful action" of Tahireh.
Furthermore, I refer you to a hundred years ago, when the struggle against hijab in Iran recognized by the name of several women fighters. For instance a diva, a famous singer, called Qamar al-Moulouk Vaziri who went on the stage without hijab and was threatened by the conservative traditional men with death, and arrested by the police then.
Prof. Jürgen Wilhelm presented the award to Mansoureh Shojaee, who accepted it on behalf of Nasrin. - Photo: Bettina Flitner
There are more evidences which show the achievement of Iranian women for both, Women’s Right movement and Women’s liberation movement’s goals, before the Islamic Revolution in Iran. But unfortunately after Islamic Revolution, all our rights have been stolen by Islamic Republic in Iran.
It was in 1979, when some of the members of "Comité International Du Droit Des Femmes”, called "Simone de Beauvoir committee", came to Iran to support the first demonstration of Iranian women against forced hijab. Alice Schwarzer was one of the members of that group. That coalition was the first transnational feminist coalition after Islamic Revolution including the Iranian feminists to support the women's protest in Iran.
Unfortunately, after the big demonstration on 8th March 1979 we didn't receive any support from the political organizations or “Revolutionary” forces including left intellectuals or Muslim intellectuals. We Iranian women were alone. Because the main discourse and the mainstream even among the intellectual has evaluated only in the framework of anti-imperialism, “honestly say” anti America. They considered the Republic of Islam as an anti-imperialist and did not take Iranian women's struggles seriously.
During the reformist time, from 2000 onward, with the visibility of women's movements in the public sphere and by the establishment of non governmental organizations, a kind of collective fight against all kind of discriminations has formed through the independent NGOs, coalitions and independent media. Women protested to discriminative family law, for right to divorce, children custody, the discrimination of political participation right, and all the right we had lost because of the rulings of Islamic shariat law.
But fighting against mandatory hijab was continuing in the daily life of each and every Iranian woman who did not believe in forced hijab.
They displayed their own agency to ignore to Islamic dress code, however they have been beaten by forced hijab police. They paid fines. They were whipped with 75 lashes. They have been imprisoned. They lost their job and even they lost their life, until today.
Three who fight for women's rights in Iran: Alice Schwarzer, Jasmin Tabatabai and Mansoureh Shojaee. - Photo: Bettina Flitner
Today, after 44 years since the journey of Alice Schwarzer and other feminists, we have reunited again.
Today, in the bloodiest and darkest days of the Middle East, we have reunited once again to remind each other about the power of our global sisterhood, for encountering the conservative international Diplomacy. Together we are more strong to fight against the oppression of women under Islamic, ideologic, theocratic, fundamentalist and militarist regimes.
We are fighting for a secular democratic Republic. We, women who are oppressed every day and every hour in Iran, Afghanistan and Palestine.
Today under the peaceful shadow of Nasrins award, we are strengthening our global sisterhood by respecting her civil disobedience, peaceful struggle, non-violence approach, and we are following our struggle shoulder by shoulder of the young generation in Iran and diaspora.
May all the prisoners and hostages of patriarchy, theocracy, dictatorship, militarism, discrimination and corruption will be free just now!
The complete recording of the event, 72 minutes, is available on YouTube.
Further information on the Alice Schwarzer Foundation website