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Women! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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There has been an attempt by the media, both inside and outside of Iran, to describe Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s decision to appoint three female ministers to his new cabinet as a “political shift” in Iran. This is in view of the fact that this will be the first time a woman will reach such a position since the Khomeini revolution.

Apart from the fact that the president’s decision to appoint three female ministers is considered propaganda – especially following the battle of the Iranian elite that broke out immediately after the presidential elections – the decision comes at a time when the image of the young, murdered Nada Soltani haunts the Iranian regime everywhere it turns. In fact it will remain a symbol of condemnation of the regime for a long time to come.

What is important here, and what we must remember in order to learn from what is happening in Tehran today, is that the situation of women in Iran was better before the Islamic Revolution, and women had more of a presence on all levels, as women in Iran assumed a number of positions, including judgeship. Women were an active part of Iranian society in fact they strongly supported the revolution itself.

Therefore, we cannot describe Ahmadinejad’s decision as a “political shift”. It is more accurate to say that the slogans of the revolutions no longer have any value. We must look at the reality on the ground, as women are an important part of society regardless of the weak excuses given in Iran and in our countries. The question is: why are countries and nations being destroyed and going back 30 years? Wouldn’t it be more beneficial to build on what we have instead of wasting generations and opportunities? Whoever has read Shirin Ebadi’s ‘Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope,’ for example, would sense the regret that the human rights activist portrays with regards to the experience of Iranian women during the revolution, as they supported the revolution in search of freedom and independence only to discover, in Ebadi’s words, that the revolution “ate away at its sisters.”

After the Mullahs gained power they began to remove the women who supported the revolution from their positions and demanded that they remain in their homes. Today, after thirty years, Ahmadinejad comes out to say that he wants to appoint women ministers, and the applauders respond by saying this is evidence of a shift on the Iranian political scene, whilst the truth is that this is condemnation of the Islamic Revolution and its principles!

The Iranian Revolution, just like Arab coup d’etats, came and caused destruction and backwardness within societies, as it did not allow progression to take place within industries, including the manufacturing industry, and caused backwardness with regards to theatres and the arts, trade unions, political parties, the press, and so on and so forth. From here, citizens and observers are demanded to applaud this so-called development. The best example of this is what is happening today in the Gaza Strip. The discourse that Hamas is using regarding the “extremism” of the Jund Ansar Allah group and about how it violated the state and the law also applies to what Hamas did to the Palestinian Authority in the past and the slogans it raised about protecting women and implementing Shariaa Law and so on. In fact Hamas says today that it is fighting the Takfiri ideology and the ideology of Al Qaeda, and accordingly, the West should reward it by holding talks with it. It is as if these groups fell out of the sky and were not Hamas’ allies once upon a time; in fact some of them broke away from Hamas.

It is the same story over and over again – whether or not it comes under the title of women – it would seem that we are destined to repeat this destructive process based on the pretext of wanting to develop.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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