Fragile Iran fears women

Amir Taheri:

For months, the state-owned media in the Islamic Republic in Iran has been whipping up frenzy about alleged plots to topple the regime. This was supposed to happen through a "velvet revolution," a "Freemason conspiracy," or "soft overthrow."

Last week, that frenzy found a new face: that of Roxana Saberi, a 31-year old former Miss North Dakota who has been in Tehran for years, working on and off as a reporter for Western media. Originally arrested on a charge of lacking a labor permit, she soon was transformed into a Mata Hari figure, a devious "spy" helping the American "Great Satan" undermine the world's first "truly Islamic system" since the Prophet's days in the 7th century. Last week a kangaroo court sentenced her to eight years in Tehran's dreaded Evin Prison.

Saberi is an ideal face for the sinister conspiracy campaign that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad regards as essential to ensure his re-election in June.

To start with, Saberi is both an insider and an outsider. Her father is an Iranian who has lived in the United States since the revolution. Her mother is Japanese. She herself was born an American but was recently engaged to marry Iranian filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi.

Saberi is also a reporter, a profession the Islamist regime in Tehran hates. Since the creation of the Islamic Republic, by some counts, more than half of all Iranian journalists have spent some time in prison. According to Shamsul Waezin, himself a pro-regime journalist for years before joining the opposition, going to prison is part of a reporter's ordinary routine.

Next, and perhaps most significantly, Saberi is a woman.

The Khomeinist regime has always regarded women as one of its three worst enemies, the other two being Jews and Americans. The first demonstration against Khomeinism consisted entirely of women, and was held on International Women's Day, March 8, 1979 in Tehran, less than four weeks after the mullahs had seized power. Mrs. Shirin Ebadi, the first Iranian awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, has emerged as one of the most hated figures of the regime's loyal opposition. Since last January, scores of women fighting for women's rights have been arrested and sentenced to varying terms of imprisonment.


According to the official statistic of the regime, published last week, over 60,000 women are in prison in Iran today, representing almost 10% of all inmates. Of these, some 30,000 are held on charges of anti-Islamic activities and/or violations of the notorious Islamic Dress Code passed by the Islamic Majlis (parliament) in April 2006.


"The enemies of Islam hide behind women because they think we will be soft on women," Ejehi said in a speech in Tehran in March 2007. "They are mistaken. We don't forget that the Prophet himself said that where there is woman, there is danger."

What a strange thing for a "prophet" to say. What an even stranger thing for religious bigot control freaks to believe. I am sure that this woman was not a US spy. I think she would not have access to information of value to the US. I do think that the fact that she was from the US and was a woman must of been really scary for such a fragile regime. When you are ruled by a bunch of guys who think a woman's hair puts off "sex rays" that cause men to lose control there is really no telling what else they might believe.


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