An interview with Elaheh Azimfar on women’s role in the Iran uprising
In an interview with Elaheh Azimfar, the representative of the Iranian Resistance in international organizations, Grand-Lebanon examined the ongoing popular uprising in Iran sparked by the brutal killing of Mahsa Amini.
The interview highlights the uprising’s underlying causes, extending beyond the mandatory hijab, and emphasizes the Iranian people’s discontent with the religious dictatorship ruling Iran.
Azimfar advocates for women’s freedom to choose their attire, arguing against the mandatory hijab, and discusses the broader aspirations of the revolution, including women’s equality, freedom of speech, and the establishment of a democratic republic.
The interview concludes by asserting that the uprising seeks to completely overthrow the regime and create a future Iran where coercion, including the mandatory hijab, has no place.
Iranian women, from NO to the mandatory hijab to YES to “down with the dictator”
Interview with Ms. Elahe Azimfar, NCRI representative in international organizations
Since the beginning of the popular uprising in Iran after the death of Mahsa Amini, who was brutally killed in a security center last September under the pretext of not having a proper veil, Iranian women are still in the streets, especially the new generation in universities and high schools. Those in prisons and interrogation centers have been subjected to the worst tortures and even shot dead while participating in demonstrations.
Recently, and not for the last time, women have been threatened with death by poisoning female students without clarifying the reality of these actions and without the perpetrators being exposed and held accountable. However, human rights organizations around the world condemn these actions.
To clarify this issue, Elaheh Azimfar, the representative of the Iranian Resistance in international organizations, in an interview, told Grand-Lebanon:
“The killing of Mahsa Amini was a state murder. The clerical regime’s Guidance Patrol killed this young woman under the pretext of improper veiling, leading to an uprising in Iran. However, the cause of the uprising was not the compulsory hijab; it was much more than that.
The uprising started with the slogan “Death to Khamenei” and “Death to the dictator.” Mahsa’s murder was a spark to a barrel of gunpowder. Iranian people hate the mullahs’ regime because this regime is a religious dictatorship ruling under the guise of religion. A regime full of fraud, hypocrisy, lies, and corruption.”
“The uprisings that took place in 2009, 2017-2018, 2019, and (2022) each started with a spark. One by a fraudulent election, the other by increasing the price of eggs, then we had the tripled price of gasoline, and in September 2022, the murder of Mahsa Amini.
“One of the prominent features of the misogynist regime of Velayat-e-Faqih in Iran is the suppression of women, which manifests itself in the mandatory hijab. Khomeini’s regime started its dictatorship immediately after coming to power by brutally suppressing women and imposing the mandatory hijab with the slogan “either the veil or a hit on the head.” Women defied it from the beginning.
We believe that women are free to choose what to wear. One woman wears a hijab, and another does not; it is their choice and has nothing to do with the government. We are resisting for the freedom of women so that the hijab would not be mandatory.”
Elaheh Azimfar added, “This uprising and revolution also wants to realize these freedoms: Women’s freedom and equality, freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of assembly, freedom to choose one’s religion. But the people of Iran, especially the women of Iran, have come to the conclusion that these freedoms, including the freedom of clothing, will not be achieved unless this regime is overthrown. That is why the first slogan chanted after Mahsa’s death was ‘death to the dictator.’ That means that this dictatorial regime must go.
“The righteous position of women in Iran will be achieved by participating in political leadership after the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime and the ruling religious tyranny.”
“After the anti-monarchy revolution in 1979, Khomeini tried to restrict women from the very beginning of his rule. He, who had seen the active participation of women in the anti-monarchy revolution, and at the same time, as the thief of the revolution, had no qualifications to run the country, knew that if he did not limit and restrain women, he would lose power very soon.
“For this reason, he made the compulsory hijab a main and necessary pillar of his ruling and openly tried to instill in our society that a woman should only deal with household affairs and raising children and should not be recognized for any political or social responsibility. This issue is also stated in the preamble of the Velayat-e-Faqih regime’s Constitution, that a woman’s main duty is to be a ‘mother,’ which means housekeeping and raising children, and this has been the main obstacle to the advancement of women in various fields.
“As an example, pay attention to these statements of Mullah Hassan Rouhani, who held high positions in the government from the beginning of the usurpation of the people’s right to sovereignty in the Velayat-e-Faqih regime, and for years later gestured as a moderate. See what he said about the hijab in the bureaus affiliated with the army. He said: ‘Women without the hijab started to grumble, but I stood firm and said that from the next morning, the guard by the main entrance must prevent women without a veil from entering the campus of the Joint Command of the Army.’
“Yes, the clerical regime has imposed all kinds of limitations on our women to hinder their political and social activities, whether by the mandatory hijab or various misogynous laws. But as we saw in the 2022 uprising, the Iranian woman today does not beg this regime for her right to dress freely or any other freedom. She understands well it is only by overthrowing this regime and establishing a democratic republic in Iran that all these freedoms will be restored.”
We asked Azifmar about Iranian women’s calls of “With Hijab or without it, onward to revolution.” She answered:
“Yes, this slogan is correct because women have realized that the regime and all those interested in maintaining this regime intend to reduce the level of demands of this revolution to the issue of hijab.
“Our Resistance’s position regarding women’s freedoms and freedom of choice concerning their clothes is clear. Our motto has been ‘No to compulsory hijab’ for four decades, not today or in this uprising. But we will not allow our people’s demands for freedom from religious tyranny to be reduced to the issue of hijab.
“More than 750 martyrs and more than 30,000 arrests in this uprising were not only to remove the hijab but to remove the cause of the compulsory hijab, which is the mullahs’ oppressive regime. Iranian women took an active and serious part in the anti-monarchy revolution. They played their role, but after the victory of the revolution and the fall of the Shah, they were the first victims whose rights were violated.”
Here we asked: If the issue of hijab for women is not given priority today, how can we know that tomorrow after the victory of this revolution, the same dilemma will not happen to them again?
She answered: “Khomeini usurped the 1979 revolution; he was not its leader.” He never presented a plan and never spoke openly about his point of view and the future. But now look at the scene of the Iranian people’s new democratic revolution. A Muslim woman, Maryam Rajavi, leads this scene. A woman who has said for four decades: ‘No to compulsory hijab, no to compulsory religion, no to compulsory government.’
“She has presented a clear plan for Iran’s future, reiterating gender equality and women’s freedoms in all arenas, including the freedom of clothing. There is no need to worry. Today, the Iranian revolution and the role of women in it are discussed in a different context. After the inevitable victory of this revolution and the overthrow of the regime, Iranian women have found a place where they will not allow a dictatorship to return to Iran, let alone become its victims.”
Azim Far pointed out that: “Khamenei, who sees his regime as very weak and vulnerable and is very afraid of its fall, resorted to this trick to stop the uprising behind the slogan of hijab.” He thinks this slogan is less dangerous than “death to Khamenei” or the slogans that call for overthrowing his regime. Iranian women want the complete overthrow of this corrupt and authoritarian regime. In the future Iran, neither compulsory hijab nor any other type of coercion will have a place.”