Subject: [fem-women2000 768] Iranian Women's Brief #48--Please Read and Pass on
From: AIWUSA <>
Date: Wed, 09 Jan 2002 15:37:18 -0500
Seq: 768

TEL: 703-941-8584


Terrorized by tradition

Arnold Beichman
Hoover Institution

Published 1/3/2002

Almost daily, there are reports from Iran of the worst
abuses of human rights - executions, floggings,
torture, secret trials, closing dozens of newspapers
and jailing their editors, mass killings - plus
support for global terrorism, plus developing weapons
of mass destruction. Yet, amazingly, every once in a
while we
get a sly, little hint around the State Department
that the Iranians are ready for dialogue and perhaps
we ought to give them a chance, perhaps they're not as
bad as they are made out to be. Well, the Iranian
theocrats, known as mullahs, are even worse than I
I've just had a talk with a young Iranian woman and
read a paper she recently did at the Johns Hopkins
School of Advanced International Studies.
That paper, by Kiana Underwood (her married name), 26,
now living in California, is titled "The Destiny of
Iranian Women after the Revolution of 1979." And that
tragic destiny is this: So long as the Ayatollah
Khomeini theocracy, instituted with the 1979 overthrow
of the shah, rules Iran, Iranian women are doomed to
enslavement and to reprisal for any deviation from
what the ayatollahs define as proper behavior. Such
tyranny over women, Mrs. Underwood writes, is in
defiance of the Koran and the history of Islam.
The 20-year reign of terror of the current regime
simply follows the precept handed down by Khomeini
himself in a Feb. 3, 1984, TV sermon that was later
published in the government newspaper, Ettelaat:
"Killing is a form of mercy because it rectifies the
person. Sometimes a person cannot be reformed unless
he is cut up and burnt . . . You must kill, burn and
lock up those in opposition."
Malevolence against women, which has flourished under
the Khomeini regime, goes back a long way in Iranian
history, as far back as the Safavid Dynasty
(1502-1736). But this is today, and a U.N. report
(Nov. 22, 1994)on violence against women referred to
special Islamic legislation that has institutionalized
public stoning and lashing of women. A woman who does
not follow the Islamic dress code is punishable by
"takfir," or excommunication, which means a death
sentence. A husband whose wife is accused of violating
the Islamic dress code - for example, appearing in
public unveiled - can lose his job or worse.
Hashemi Rafsanjani, while serving as president of
Iran, handed down this misogynistic insight about
women on June 7, 1986: "Equality does not take
precedence over justice . . . Justice does not mean
that all laws
must be the same for men and women. One of the
mistakes that Westerners make is to forget this . . .
the difference in the stature, vitality, voice,
development, muscular quality and physical strength of
men and women shows that men are stronger and more
capable in all fields . . . Men's brains are larger
These differences affect the delegation of
responsibilities, duties and rights."
Even more wretched are passages from Khomeini's book,
"Tahrir-ol-vasileh." In a chapter on cleanliness, he
calls women "najes," (filthy). A man need only wash
once a day, but women twice a day. Although Islam
favors praying collectively in a mosque, Khomeini
recommends women pray at home, preferably in a closet.
While a husband must provide for his wife's living
expenses, he is not required to pay medical expenses
for a serious illness. If the wife has independent
means, fine; if not, too bad. As you read this, it is
well to remember that this medieval code was
promulgated by the leader of Iran's revolution, the
Imam Khomeini himself. Whatever were the faults of the
Shah Reza Pahlevi, he wouldn't have dared issue such
macabre rulings. Khomeini authorized "temporary
marriage," a euphemism for prostitution in which he
specified that a sum be paid to the woman for the use
of her body. I don't know what adjective could
Khomeini's fatwa, which sanctioned the rape of virgin
girls prior to their execution, or another fatwa that
permitted execution of pregnant women.
Another fatwa is so disgusting that I can't describe
it. In the Majlis, the Iranian legislature, deputies
discuss the superiority of men to women. The head of
Iran's so-called judiciary said in December 1986:
"Your wife is your possession, in fact, your slave."
Mrs. Underwood's paper argues that women were
respected by Mohammed. He praised Abraham's second
wife, Hagar; pharaoh's daughter, who raised Moses; the
Virgin Mary, who is spoken of highly in the Koran.
Mohammed's wife, and Fatima, his daughter, are
important to him. Mohammed stressed the equality of
all men and women. Before the rise of Mohammed in 611
it was common practice on the Arabian peninsula to
bury baby girls alive.
Mohammed condemned this barbarism. Throughout the
Koran, says Mrs. Underwood, men and women are
addressed as equals, and she offers citations from
Islam's holy
book. Khadijeh dedicated her life, Mrs. Underwood
says, "to the promotion of Islam."
And Mrs. Underwood asks: "Where in the Koran is it
mentioned that men and women are unequal creations of
God? Where in the actions and sayings of Mohammed do
we find such hostility and violence against women?
Where has the Islamic Republic of Iran found in the
Koran the guidelines under which they claim to
operate? The Islamic Republic of Iran has a vendetta
against women; they have used Islam, the very faith
that Mohammed used to liberate women, as a tool to
tyrannize and
terrorize them."

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