IAPAC Honors Accomplishments of Iranian Women

Fri, Jun 25, 2004



The Iranian American Political Action Committee (IAPAC) recently celebrated the accomplishments of Iranian women and honored Mahnaz Afkhami, Women’s Learning Partnership CEO, Mehrangiz Kar, human rights activist, and Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Laureate.

Founded approximately a year ago, IAPAC is a registered bi-partisan federal political committee focusing exclusively on domestic policy issues such as civil rights and civil liberties, and encouraging Americans of Iranian descent to actively participate in the electoral process, to vote and to run for political office.

On accepting her award, Afkhami, emphasized perseverance and courage, “Both in the US and in Iran, Iranian women have been the pillars holding families and communities together…leading the struggle for rights and democracy regardless of the cost to themselves.” Afkhami also commended IAPAC for trying to create a bipartisan voice to unify Americans of Iranian descent and advance the cause of civil liberties and civil rights in the United States. Kar’s personal and emotional testament to the struggle for human rights rang through as she dedicated her award to “all the Iranian women who have for more than a century been part of the struggle for freedom and democracy.”

Presiding over ceremony, author of New York Times Best Seller Reading Lolita in Tehran, Mrs. Azar Nafisi, said, “we know how important dreams are…to constantly move forward to what should be and what could be,” as she presented honorees artistic replicas of Cyrus the Great’s Cylinder, the 5000 year old first universal declaration of human rights, as reproduced by Iranian artist Nasser Ovissi.

Stressing the importance of tolerance and participation in the political life of the US, Senator John Corzine (D-NJ) said to the 350 attendees, “Civil rights and human rights is not an Iranian issue, it is not an American issue, it’s a global issue, we should remember that we as Americans, even in a time of national crisis, must always sustain our love of liberty,” said Corzine.

Congressional candidate, Goli Ameri (R-OR), commended IAPAC efforts, calling for action: “PACs make the American political machine move and represent community interests…it is important to support this cause…let’s send a loud and clear message to the rest of the world that America is still a shining beacon of tolerance and freedom.”

Soroush Richard Shehabi, one of IAPAC’s original 22 founding Trustees began the evening by highlighting the accomplishments of a number of Iranian women: “The honorees have devoted their lives to giving a voice to the Iranian spirit while pushing forward the cause of civil liberties and civil rights.” He also acknowledged the numerous professional accomplishments of Americans of Iranian descent but noted the virtual non-existence of this community’s influence on the political scene. “We should not be surprised if bad things continue to happen to our community and that we continue to be among the first to be profiled and targeted by discriminatory policies,” said Shehabi, “this will continue until we embrace the necessity of fully participating in the democratic process here at home.”

IAPAC in fact, has already made significant progress by opening doors on Capitol Hill and helping counteract recent legislative and regulatory developments that singled out Iranians for special scrutiny. Together with the Iranian American Bar Association, IAPAC has brought the detention of approximately 1000 Iranians to the attention of Congress and has scheduled a bipartisan briefing on Capitol Hill on this subject. IAPAC has developed at a surprising rate because of the dedication and support of a broad bipartisan and geographically diverse group of Americans of Iranian descent, including businessmen, doctors, attorneys, activists, home-makers, academics and some of the most active donors to both the Bush and Kerry Campaigns

Other attendees included, the Ambassadors of Sweden, Norway, Bolivia, and Jordan; principal editor of the Encyclopedia Iranica, Professor Ehsan Yarshater; Nina Reese, the first Iranian-American Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education; Nazanin Afshin-Jam, Miss World First Runner- Up; and, Society of Iranian Studies founder Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak.

Amid awards and speeches, classical musician Kazem Davoudian played the traditional Persian instrument, santur, or dulcimer, and an Iranian Mezzo- Soprano performed an operatic musical ode. As attendees sampled authentic Persian cuisine, prepared by renowned Persian chef, and author of “Food for Life,” Najmieh Batmanglij, Shehabi closed the evening by urging Americans of Iranian descent “to actively participate in the electoral process, to vote, to run for political office, to raise money for political candidates, and to use the resources made available by IAPAC and other civic organizations to create a voice for Americans of Iranian descent in the civic and political life of the United States.”


About Mahnaz Afkhami

A lifetime advocate for the rights of women, Mahnaz Afkhami works with activists across the world, especially in Muslim majority societies, to help women become leaders. She is Founder and President of Women’s Learning Partnership for Rights, Development, and Peace (WLP), Executive Director of Foundation for Iranian Studies...more

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