By Maryam Hejazi | April 18, 2018
When dictatorship and violence rules, only lovers of and laborers for peace can pave the path to peace and liberty. These individuals are willing to selflessly sacrifice of themselves to reduce human suffering and promote understanding among peoples. In such circumstances, women are perhaps the most persuasive and dynamic instruments of peace, whose innate capacity for grace is central to human evolution. Coincidently, throughout history, the most terrible crimes committed against humanity are the acts of individuals or regimes that seek to demean and use women. Women therefore, must be a driving force for change, particularly in humanity’s struggle against fundamentalist Islam.
Misogyny is one of the main characteristics of Islamic fundamentalism and an important tool in its predatory arsenal. In no region of the world is the use of this medieval practice more systemic than in Iran, where women have for decades been used and abused with destructive results.
Thankfully, in no other part of the world is women’s struggle for freedom more evident than in Iran, where women have since the 1980s emphatically rejected religious tyranny, denouncing it as an obstacle to peace. Indeed, their struggle transcends the present day tyranny in Iran but is arguably driving a greater evolution for women’s rights, creating tools for combatting fundamentalist Islam. Their cause does not concern only Iranians but is now a global cause. In seeking to oppose the regime, women of Iran are fighting against global extremism.
Today, forty-seven million Iranians are on social networks. Led by women, they are using social media as a tool for unity against the centerpiece of Islamic fundamentalism, in the clerical regime that is currently ruling Iran. It is their goal to overthrow the stifling theocracy and usher a significant achievement for the entire region and women in particular. Supporting the Iranian Spring is therefore a moral responsibility for all peace-loving individuals and nations. It is a necessary step in the struggle against Islamic fundamentalism and a stride towards peace.
At a conference in Paris to commemorate the International Women’s Day in February of this year, recognition was given to the Iranian opposition women inside and outside Iran. The message: we need to do away with injustice and persecution of women. Entitled, “Women Force for Change, Iran Uprising and the Role of Women,” the conference became a forum for many inspiring people to offer solutions to counter Islamic fascism. “The day, when Iranian women destroy the roots of fundamentalism in Iran, freedom and equality will make a leap forward all across the world,” noted the event’s keynote speaker.
During the 1980s, many thousands of young women and girls were executed in Iran just because they believed in freedom and demanded rights. The beauty of today’s Iranian struggle is that the same spirit still exists and is growing stronger. Their message is clear: You cannot reform a totalitarian regime that seeks to control everything. Reform will not work; regime change is the only answer.
As we attempt to understand the causes of persecutions, civil strife, and wars, we see that they are almost always rooted in wickedness. The 20th-century mass-murders are among the bloodiest crimes ever committed against humanity. One can hardly comprehend the far-reaching magnitude of the Nazi holocaust murders of over five million Europeans, Stalin’s Soviet Union purges and labor camps that killed five to ten million, and the 2-3 million noncombatants killed or who died of hunger during the Biafran War.
Similarly in Iran, in the summer of 1988, the regime executed 30,000 political prisoners. The victims included women and men of all ages, pregnant women, the elderly, and children. Although more attention is being given to this crime against humanity, no one has yet been held accountable. How many people have since been jailed, tortured, or disappeared with the subsequent rise of fundamentalist Islam in the region is impossible to determine.
Recently, we have seen revolutionary changes in the governments of many nations. In some cases, these changes have been accomplished with minimal bloodshed. Nevertheless, we are far from securing peace in these nations or many others throughout the world. With Iranian regime’s bloody role in Syria in mind, a subtle transition to peaceful coexistence is a long shot for the women of Iran.
It is certainly true that responsible human beings must be personally and individually accountable for promoting peace, as this responsibility cannot be transferred to someone else. If democratically elected, one nation or regime’s greed, hatred, or desire for power over its people or another nation is merely a reflection of greed, hatred, intolerance, and selfish desires of individuals within that nation. It simply cannot be placed upon the shoulders – willing or not – of Congress or Parliament, the United Nations, or any other organization of men and women with governing authority.
Yet, human beings and particularly women are also endowed with indelible God given rights, infringements upon which are destructive to mankind. These abuses are being bravely resisted in Iran, where women are living the prayer expressed in the words of a favorite song, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me” (Sy Miller and Jill Jackson).