Americans are bombarded with media coverage of the three-decade-old Islamic Republic and its nuclear aspirations. But there's more to Iran than Ahmdainejad, as can be seen in the Smithsonian's Freer and Sackler Galleries' new project, Feast Your Eyes: A Taste of Luxury in Ancient Iran. The Atlantic invited a panel of Iranian-American leaders to discuss the exhibit. Taking part in the dialogue are Azar Nafisi, the much-acclaimed Iranian-American author of long-standing New York Times bestseller Reading Lolita in Tehran; Massumeh Farhad, chief curator and curator of Islamic Art Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery; and Mahnaz Afkhami.
Despite the perception that strict Islamic law and feminism are incompatible, women's rights advocates argued (at the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Submcommittee on International Operations and Organizations, Human Rights, Democracy, and Global Women's Issues's hearing) that Muslim values could actually help women of the Arab Spring promote greater equality. Mahnaz Afkhami cautioned that while some Islamic countries have provided a more positive outlook, other examples, like Iran, give women reasons to worry.
“The infringement of women’s rights is usually exercised in the name of tradition, religion, social cohesion, morality, or some complex of transcendent values. Anyway, it is justified in the name of culture.” Gender Apartheid, Cultural Relativism, and Women’s Human Rights
“The crass infringement of women’s rights we see in the Muslim world has more to do with power, patriarchy, and misuse of religion as political weapon than with religion properly understood as individual faith.” – Gender Apartheid, Cultural Relativism, and Women’s Human Rights
“Islam is not the problem. Rather it is the misuse of Islam by interpreting it to fit the needs of the partriarchal order – the powers that be – and the privileges that one gender has held over the other.” – How are women working to eliminate violence against women in Muslim-majority societies?
“Religious zeal makes democracy problematic because it turns every attempt at understand and compromise – the hallmarks of democracy – into an evidentiary test of religious righteousness.” – Rights of Passage
“Women ought not to be forced to choose between freedom and God.” – Rights of Passage
AWID Resource Net / By Rochelle Jones
AWID highlights the efforts of Muslim women to eliminate violence against women, as discussed in the recently released report from the International Symposium entitled “Leading to Change: Eliminating Violence Against Women in Muslim Societies.” The Symposium was convened by the Women’s Learning Partnership for Rights, Development and Peace (WLP) in March 2005.
In Der Tagesspiegel
Women in Iran must be free to choose what to think, what to say, what to do, and, of course, how to relate, or not to relate, to God, writes Mahnaz Afkhami. This cannot be had if government and religion are one.
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars “Dialogue Radio” / By George Liston Seay / Listen
To affect change, women must take charge of their own destiny. They must reclaim the tenets of their faith. They must also be willing to challenge deeply rooted traditions.