Greetings! I hope your July is not too hot wherever in the world you are. I would like to open this window without further ado with the most important topic of the day.
The Latest on the Segregation in Universities
In the last window update I spoke about the latest danger to the women’s equal opportunities in Iran, namely the looming threat of setting gender specific classrooms (and perhaps ultimately separate universities in Iran). The topic which has been revived by extreme conservatives is not taken as seriously by all Iranian academics. In some observer’s view, the return to this issue is in preparation for the parliamentary elections in December 2012. In other words, the hardliners are trying to appeal to their base, and by the same token, those who oppose the idea are banking on the fact that the plan is very unpopular, and practically improbable if not totally impossible.
While these readings of the situation may not be invalid, the threat to Iranian women’s equal access to first rate educational resources is so important that even a slim chance of segregation in universities must not be taken lightly.
Please Sign our Petition before Closing this Window!
Given the significance of the situation, a number of us (academics based outside and inside Iran) have written a letter to Iranian University Presidents and Administrators asking them NOT to allow the segregation to be implemented. The petition is on line and has already received hundreds of signatures from people all over the world. We are so pleased that the letters is turning into a global effort. Please go on line here now and support our letter to these Iranian educational authorities by signing the petition and sharing it with friends and colleagues you think would like to sign. We may have to send the letter soon, so please do it at your earliest convenience.
VOA Does a Special on Gender Segregation Plan for Iranian Universities
Fortunately the news media, which are followed by large numbers of listeners with interest in Middle Eastern Issues, are taking keen interest in this matter. Last Monday,Voice of America did a special episode in its popular program Ofogh “horizon” on this very issue. I was interviewed on the program. For those of you who like to watch the program (which is in Persian), the links are here and here. I have already received thank you e-mail messages from Iran.
In an interesting gesture, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has expressed opposition to segregating men and women in Iran universities. Is he trying to win the hearts of the young Iranians? Well, he might. But is it not too little and too late? Read more about it here.
Pegah Ahangarani, the Woman who is no Longer Missing
Pegah Ahangarani was scheduled to be in Germany (July 4-12) to publish her personal coverage of Iranian women soccer players for the German Deutsche Welle. The day before her trip she received a call from Iranian intelligence authorities to the effect that she will be arrested if she goes to the airport. Even though Ms. Ahangarani cancelled her trip, she disappeared about a week later. Ironically, today after Ms. Ahangarani made a brief and nervous phone call to her family from Evin Prison, everyone felt relieved. At least, she is alive. Today Iranians who went to movies chanted slogans in support of Pegah Ahangarani and added a few “death to dictator”s as well before they left movie theaters. No one has been arrested in this connection yet. Click here to read about Gooya news report on the public support for her.
There is a Pattern Here
The same thing happened to Mariam Majd an Iranian woman photographer and sports writer recently. Photo Journalist Mariam Majd got arrested in her house the night before her trip. She has a special interest in women in sports and was similarly scheduled to be in Germany on June 17 to photograph the FIFA Women’s World Cup. She was arrested by four man – believed to be security forces – who searched her apartment the night before and took her away. Majd was first believed to be missing until sources close to her family informed the media that she had been taken to Evin Prison. You can read about the incident and follow her story on the International Campaign for Human Rights here. These woman participate in no subversive activity. However their powerful personal presence poses a threat to the regime and the ideal of piety and womanhood it tries to promote.
Iranian Movies Win Major Prize at St. Petersburg Festival
Despite the tremendous pressure on journalism and art to express no critical view of the current culture and politics in Iran, Iranian film-makers and journalists continue to produce lively art that has the courage to look at the social reality in Iran and elsewhere.
Farhadi’s film added St. Petersburg to its previous honors. Read more at Payvand News of Iran.
Visual Delight – Paintings from Aida Zoghi
Let’s close this window, as usual, with images of delightful paintings by an Iranian woman painter, this time Aida Zoghi.
Aida Zoghi born in 1973 received her B.A. degree in painting
from Alzahra University. She has had person exhibits in Iran.
The Paintings you see here are from 2003 and 2004
Have great week!