a curious Yankee in Europe's court

blog about living in Europe, and Italy

Protest in Iran is not weakening, says Shirin Ebadi

Posted on the March 3rd, 2010

In an interview last week with France24, Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi said she does not share the view that the resistance in Iran is growing weak (Feb 23, 2010).

The Iranian lawyer said that the protest movement is “as strong as ever” but is now varying in its forms. The interviewer asked Ebadi what could cause the present regime to yield to the resistance. Ebadi responded:

What exasperates this regime really is that the demonstrations are continuing and they are continuing to be extremely peaceful in the protests, and they are not giving the state any excuses to justify its violence.

Moreover, amongst the religious authorities there are very strong disagreements. A great number of the clerics have taken a position in favor of the people and are protesting against the government, and have condemned the violence of government saying that this could lead to the fall of the regime which would be harmful to all the authorities including the clergy, and they are taking a stand against violence. This disagreement among the clergy is very important.

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Iranian women heroic in the face of brutal repression

Posted on the January 17th, 2010

Though at the cost of beatings, being thrown in jail and killed, women in Iran are taking the lead in the ongoing protest movement there. This, according to Haleh Esfandiari, an Iranian-American scholar. Esfandiari is Director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars.

In 2007, Esfandiari herself was arrested and imprisoned briefly when she traveled to Iran to visit her mother. This week she writes a post on the protest activities of Iranian women for The New York Review of Books blog:


The participation by women in the latest series of protests marks another notable development. Women have shown themselves ready to do what had generally been regarded as ‘men’s work.” Despite the risk of beatings, injury, arrest, even death, they have continued to take a leading part in protests and demonstrations. The demonstrators’ chant, “we are men of war,” has changed to “we are men and women of war.”

When I was held in solitary confinement in Tehran’s Evin Prison in 2007, I was questioned at length about the women’s rights movement; my two interrogators seemed alarmed and befuddled by it. They certainly feared its potential: how else to explain the harsh way in which officials have dealt with the women collecting signatures for a simple petition? But my interrogators also told me they feared a backlash if they used excessive force to disperse female demonstrators.

That was three years ago. Now, the gloves are off. The sight of tens of thousands of women marching alongside men in demonstrations last June seems to have unnerved the authorities. Under the increasingly brutal regime of Ahmadinejad’s second term, Iranians have seen young and middle-aged women clubbed, dragged across pavements, and hustled into vans by police and official thugs in plain clothes…

In this Foreign Exchange TV interview in August 2009, Esfandiari talks about her 2007 arrest:

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