Iran's Religious Fundamentalism Allegedly Victimizes Women

Monisha Bansal | July 7, 2008 | 8:05pm EDT
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( - Demanding freedom for women and political prisoners, protesters in Iran gathered Wednesday to celebrate International Women's Day, only to be beaten by police. According to one of the organizers in Tehran -- Mehri Amiri of the Society for Defense of Women's Rights in Iran -- about 2,000 protesters gathered in Laleh Park, but were immediately attacked.

She said 300 were able to make it into the park to voice their opposition to religious fundamentalism in Iran and the subjugation of women that they allege has accompanied the fundamentalism.

"On this day, in different countries of the world, they give presents to women, congratulate them and commemorate this day of national celebration. They heed women for their increasing activities and steadfastness," said a statement from the Women's Rights Association of Iran.

"Contrary to this point of view of the civilized world, sits our imprisoned country."

International Women's Day was first commemorated in 1911. It is promoted by the United Nations to "celebrate economic, social, cultural and political achievements for women."

"The Iranian women have reached the conclusion that within this regime there is no future for them. The women are alienated and suppressed," Amiri said.

"The reality is the government in Iran, since the first day they came to power -- the fundamentalists, not just the current regime -- day by day they have made it very difficult for Iranian women to live. Now, the current regime and the coming to power of terrorist Ahmedinejad, the situation is far worse than before," she said, referring to the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.

"We have reached a level where women on the streets are being killed," Amiri said.

She argued that other countries should isolate Iran because the money the Iranian government earns from petroleum is spent on weapons. "What we are asking from the world is to stop appeasing the Iranian government. The government must completely go away and the regime must be changed."

Amiri and other representatives of Iranian women's groups in Washington, D.C. voiced their support for Maryam Rajavi, leader of the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), who promotes regime change in Iran through domestic opposition, but without war.

"We have chosen the path of resistance," said Amiri.

The MKO was expelled from Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. While it conducted terrorist attacks against the interests of the religious regime in Iran, it also worked with Saddam Hussein in Iraq, where many members settled after leaving Iran.

The U.S. classifies the MKO as a terrorist organization, but because of the group's strong opposition to the government of Iran, some members of Congress have pushed to take the MKO off of that list.

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