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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Women at "The Root of the Current Unrest" in Iran

"Iranian women are very powerful and they want their freedom," said one woman in Tehran who said she's been taking part in the protests. Like all women in Iran interviewed for this story, she did not want to be named, fearing government retribution. "They're really, really repressed, and they need to talk about it."

The election seemed to open the floodgates for airing that sense of frustration.

Claims by Ahmadinejad's chief rival for the presidency, Mir Hossein Mousavi, that the election was riddled with fraud were the catalyst for days of protest following the vote. The government's harsh response — evidenced in hundreds of arrests, the deaths of over a dozen demonstrators, clampdowns on the media, the refusal of the country's theocratic leaders to entertain the possibility of a re-count — fueled popular discontent across wide swaths of the population.

But there is an extra layer of resentment and anger among many of Iran's 35 million women. Many fear that a second term for a man who was first elected in 2005 in part on a platform of restoring "Islamic values" will only prove to be worse than the first.

"The root of the current unrest is the people's dissatisfaction and frustration at their plight going back before the election," said Iranian Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi. "Because women are the most dissatisfied people in society, that is why their presence is more prominent."

link: The Associated Press: Women in Iran's protests: head scarves and rocks


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