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THE WOMEN OF THE IRANIAN REVOLUTION

26 year old murdered by Islamic rulers in Iran. Her name, Neda, means "voice" or "the call"…………..

The most extraordinary aspect of the Iranian revolution is the leading role women have taken — indeed, the leadership role they have assumed. They are the heart, the soul, the fuel of this enormously courageous effort. I do not believe these women are fighting for more sharia — nor do I believe they will throw off their head dress at first either. Why expose themselves like that to authorities? I would keep my sunglasses and head scarf on — why flaunt your identity with these barbarians?

Judith Klinghoffer writes of these inspirational women in the context of the women of the American revolution here:

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I also know that Iran’s women stand in the vanguard. For days now,
I’ve seen them urging less courageous men on. I’ve seen them get beaten and
return to the fray. “Why are you sitting there?” one shouted at a couple of men
perched on the sidewalk on Saturday. “Get up! Get up!”

Another green-eyed woman, Mahin, aged 52, staggered into an alley clutching
her face and in tears. Then, against the urging of those around her, she limped
back into the crowd moving west toward Freedom Square. Cries of “Death to the
dictator!” and “We want liberty!” accompanied her.

http://library.thinkquest.org/J0111340/Molly_Pitcher.jpg

As I read Roger Cohen's report,
America’s own “Daughters of Liberty” come to my mind. I recall the American
women who entered “into a resolve for every mother to disown her son, and refuse
the caresses of her husband, and for every maiden to reject the addresses of her
gallant” if any of them failed to hold fast to the patriotic position. I
remember, Hannah Arnett, who in the presence of her husband and local leaders of
Elizabeth Town, declared:

For me, I stay with my country, and my hand shall never touch the
hand, nor my heart cleave to the heart of him who shame her . . . . Isaac, we
have lived together for twenty years . . . But I am the child of God and of my
country, and if you do this shameful thing (turn the town over to Cornwallis), I
will never again own you for my husband.1

http://www.albawaba.com/en/news/248538

Looking at the beautiful, blood covered face of “NEDA” whose image has
emerged as the symbol of the current Iranian revolution, I think of Hanna
Caldwell of Newark. “Neda,” is the code name of a young woman who was standing
aside with her father watching the protests, when she was shot from a rooftop of
a house. She died
on the street within a couple of minutes. Hanna Caldwell, a mother of nine,
chose to stay in her home and was shot. She was not alone. “Six widows are
burned out; some very aged, and others which were not burnt, were torn to
pieces, entirely plundered” reported the New Jersey Gazette on July 12,
1780 following the battle of Springfield. At such tumultuous times, home no
longer affords protection. Just listen
to the cries heard as a Tehran apartment is invaded in the dead of night.

http://www.payvand.com/news/09/jun/Mousavi-Rahnavard-holding-hands.jpg

And how can I forget the wife and partner, Abigail Adams. She, too, has a
counterpart in the current Iranian saga. Indeed, if the tragic image of “NEDA”
has emerged as the symbol of the revolutionary phase of the struggle, the image
of Mir Hossein Mousavi holding hand with his wife, university professor Zahra
Rahnavard, encompassed its reformist phase. Iranian law forbids public displays
of affection, including hand holding. Their defiance of that prohibition held
the promise that Mousavi “will not forget the Ladies.“ For then, as now,
economic discontent led to demands for greater democracy. Americans cried “No
Taxation without Representation.” Iranians cry “Where is my Vote?”

American women fought
and died in the revolutionary army. Iranian women march and die in the
streets. The risk they take is just as great. Even name and connections do not
offer much protection. The daughter
of President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is amongst the arrested. Nobel
prize winner Shirin Ebadi is still at large and, to her credit, far from silent.
She has not only identified with the opposition by calling for new elections but
used her Nobel fame to demand that the international community meddle:

I expect the international community to prevent the pursuit of
violence by the government . . . I expect it to stop (the government) firing on
the people.

In 1778, American revolutionaries raised their glasses with the following
toast:

The Fair of America; may their virtues and patriotism, so much
hidden by arbitrary fashion, be more publicly displayed, and they be rewarded by
gratitude of every observer

The spirit of women of Iran is, indeed, much more publicly displayed,
analyzed and at times, even celebrated. Consider some of the following
headlines, Women
in Iran march against Discrimination
, Defiance
of Women of Iran Brings World Attention to Crisis
or Iran
and the Woman question.
As could be expected, some sour notes remain. Take
for example, ABC News headline; Lipstick
Revolution: Iranian Women Take to the Streets

There are more women in position of authority than in 1776. Thus, when Shirin
Ebadi asks, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay responds
with a call for Iran to rein in Islamic militia:

It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that militia
members and regular law enforcement agencies do not resort to illegal acts of
violence," she said in a statement.

If they are perceived to be acting outside the law, it could provoke a
serious deterioration in the security situation, which would be a great tragedy
and is in nobody's interests.

Angela Merkel, Germany’s prime minister steps up the plate. The same cannot
be said about Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, the woman Iranian often
compare to Zahra Rahnavard. She was forced to prevaricate while working hard
behind the scene to
convince
President Obama to stand by those marching in the streets. In the
end, it was NEDA’s blood and the blood of her fellow Iranian women and men that
did the convincing. Let me end, as I started with a quote from Roger Cohen:

“Can’t the United Nations help us?” one woman asked me.

I said I doubted that very much.

“So,” she said, “we are on our own.”

May the Iranian Daughters of Liberty meet with success and may the
descendents of the American Daughters of Liberty do their utmost to aid them. It
may not be enough but they are owed our best efforts.

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