My Blog has Moved to since 1 November 2011

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Happy New Year!

Wishing everyone a wonderful New Year.

P.S. I will begin blogging again the week of January 8.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Islamic Republic of Iran does not dare stone anyone else!

By: The International Committee against Stoning

Stoning is a brutal and medieval weapon for the political Islamic movement in order to create terror in society and maintain power.

The Islamic regime of Iran has stoned the most number of people in the past two decades.
Hundreds of men and women have been killed in this torturous manner because of the regime's intervention in people's private lives and their sexual relations.

Only one of the many cases of stoning is enough to try these criminals in international courts and prosecute them for these unimaginable crimes.

Last week, the lives of 5 people were saved from stoning. Parisa Akbari and Najaf Akbari, were saved from stoning. The Islamic government sentenced them to 99 lashes and 5 years of exile for Najaf Akbari. These decrees of lashing and exile should also be met with public protest. We must do something so the Islamic regime does not dare to flog people either.

It was also announced, last week, that the stoning decrees for Soghra Molayi, Azam Khanjari and Zahra Rezayi had been cancelled.

Right now, 8 people are languishing in Iranian prisons awaiting stoning to death. The spokesperson of the Islamic regime, however, claims that stoning is not practiced in Iran. THis only proves one thing. The Islamic Republic of Iran is under intense pressure due to the outrage against this Islamic brutality.

The International Committee against Stoning will not allow this regime to take any more victims. We will not allow them to stone anybody to death in Iran. The heads of the Islamic government of Iran should be prosecuted and tried for their crimes against humanity.
Stoning is a crime against humanity and it should be immediately banned in Iran and everywhere. The brutal law of stoning should be banned everywhere.

International Committee against Stoning
November 28th, 2006

Translated by: Arash Sorx

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Radio Montreal

I was interviewed on 7 December by Beryl Wajsman on his radio show, The Last Angry Man, on 940AM Radio Montreal on the Iraq Study Group Report, its recommendations to engage the Islamic regime of Iran, the New World Order and Secularism. To Listen, click here.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

There is no ‘right’ to nuclear weapons

TV International interview with Hamid Taqvaee

Maryam Namazie: Some have said that secular Iranians who might have been opposed to the Islamic regime of Iran having nuclear weapons in the past, are now supportive of it because they believe it is needed defensively vis-à-vis the US’ reckless imperialism.

Hamid Taqvaee: I don’t think that is the case. The fact of the matter is that a majority of Iranians are against the Islamic regime of Iran. They know very well that nuclear weapons in the hands of the regime will be a tool for it maintenance in Iran and the Middle East. Political Islam will clearly benefit from the regime’s securing of nuclear weapons. I think, in general, people are against the Islamic regime having nuclear weapons as they are opposed to any government having it. This is the principled position.

Maryam Namazie: When it comes to the ‘third world’, you often see the people living there being given the same opinion as the government of that country whereas that wouldn’t be the case in the west. For example, if the British government has nuclear weapons, it doesn’t automatically mean that it has a right to them or that the British people agree with its having such weapons. Why does that happen, especially when it comes to political Islamic groups or the Islamic Republic of Iran?

Hamid Taqvaee: The problem is that public opinion in western countries or to be exact the media and the government in western countries, categorise people in the ‘Third World’ in this way. They want to make people believe that whatever happens there and whatever the regimes do there are what people there want. And automatically this implies that governments in the Middle East or in Third World countries are representing their own people. Add to this cultural relativism and you can see what is going on. As a result, they say that Iran is an Islamic country; whatever the Islamic Republic says is what people think and so automatically they conclude that the people of Iran support the Islamic Republic’s securing of nuclear weapons. But the real situation in this case and almost every political issue is the exact opposite. The people of Iran automatically oppose what the Islamic regime says and wants because the people of Iran despise this government. Their position on the nuclear issue is opposite of what the government says.

Maryam Namazie: You also hear about the ‘right’ to nuclear technology, nuclear weapon and so on and so forth and again that’s another interesting thing because it is really a negative ‘right’. Isn’t it? It is like saying the right to honour killings or the right to domestic violence.

Hamid Taqvaee: It is not about rights; it is about right or wrong. Is it beneficial to the people if a government has nuclear weapons? Is it a good thing for the people of the world everywhere? Or is a negative factor which is against humanity? That’s the question. It is not a legal question.

All governments have the ‘right’ to have nuclear weapons. Apparently governments have the right to many things! They have the right to have jails. In many countries they have the right to execute people; they have the right to have police; they have the right to go to war and kill civilians! Israel has a ‘right’, everybody says, to raid Lebanon and kill more than 1,000 people. It is ridiculous to talk about rights. As if we are in a court! This is not the case. In politics, you must examine and judge politics by the criteria of whether it is beneficial to the population at large. Do people benefit from it or is it against people? That is the question. If you gauge it by that criteria, you can see that nuclear weapon in the hands of the Iranian government and any government in the world is against humanity, is against peace, is against people and so we have to be against it.

Maryam Namazie: Another issue that comes up all the time is the issue of double standard and again it is referred to in a negative sense; they don’t talk of double standards of the status of women but of nuclear weapons!

Hamid Taqvaee: Yes I agree. But then it should mean that no government in the world should have nuclear weapons. That is the way that we can solve double standards not the other way round. If all the people who commit murder are not prosecuted, then one who is can say there are double standards and therefore they should not be prosecuted and anyone who wants can kill!

We need to put aside these assertions which are not the main issue. The main issue is that having nuclear weapons in any country in the world is wrong. It is a nightmare for our world that someday, somebody can push a red button and destroy the world. It is everybody’s nightmare. If that is the truth, which is the truth of our era unfortunately, then we must come to the conclusion that no government in the world should have the ‘right’ to use or develop or have nuclear weapons. If that’s everyone’s position, then we can talk about double standards, the ‘rights’ of the governments and so on. Even if they don’t use it, it is there; it is always there. It is a nightmare for everybody in the world.

Maryam Namazie: What would you say to those who say opposing Iran’s ‘right’ to nuclear technology is giving the US administration ammunition to isolate and possibly attack Iran?

Hamid Taqvaee: We are against attacking Iran and against US policies as a whole in the Middle East and especially in Iran. Also, we are not only saying that the Iranian regime has no right to nuclear weapons, we also are saying that the US has no right to attack Iran, or to impose economic sanctions. So I don’t buy that logic. If you attack a regime, it does not mean you automatically have the same position as everybody else who attacks that regime. That is not the case. We are against political Islam so does that mean we are supporting the USA; we are also against US policies in the Middle East and everywhere in the world, so does that mean we are supporting the Islamic Republic of Iran?! We are against both. You can’t just look at an aspect of our position on issues and then come to the erroneous conclusion that we are ‘with this or that camp in the world’. That’s not the case.

Maryam Namazie: One last question. Some say that the Islamic regime has a right to nuclear technology under the nuclear proliferation treaty (NPT) and that is what they want not weapons.

Hamid Taqvaee: The first thing is that nobody trusts that the Islamic Republic of Iran will use nuclear technology for peaceful means. But even if we do that is not the issue. We are against using nuclear energy in any industry, for any purposes because the technology in itself is very dangerous. Nuclear technology should be abandoned everywhere in the world because it is against the environment, it is against the people, it is , especially in hands of governments like very dangerous, especially in places with low standards and controls.

Transcribed by Arash Sorx.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Campaign to save the lives of Rafigh Taghi and Samir Sedaghat Oghloo

Ayatollah Lankarani, an Iranian cleric, has issued a fatwa for the death of Rafigh Taghi and Samir Sedaghat Oghloo. We should resolutely protest this fatwa that has been issued by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s authorities against writers and critics of religion in the Azerbaijan Republic.

On November 15, 2006, Rafigh Taghi who is a journalist and columnist of San-at newspaper wrote an article entitled ‘Europe and Us’. In his article, he quoted Mohamed and the Koran, calling Mohamed an aggressor and concluding: ‘This religion is the religion of aggression against humanity.’ Islamic gangs of Hezbollah were immediately organised to protest in the streets of Tabriz and Ardebil in Iran. As a result, Rafigh Taghi and Samir Sedaghat Oghloo, the editor of the journal, were immediately imprisoned in Baku. The Islamic regime’s officials even asked the government of Azerbaijan to apologise for ‘insulting Moslems!’

On November 29, 2006, Lankarani, shamelessly issued the fatwa against the two individuals.

This is an example of how political Islam treats religion’s critics and opponents. The Islamic Republic of Iran has officially and openly ordered Islamic terror gangs to assassinate these two individuals, wherever they spot them.

This is ugly face of the criminal Political Islam. They have come to power with murder, fatwas, stoning and execution, and maintain themselves with these crimes. This is a movement that cannot even tolerate a caricature or any criticism and immediately orders bloodshed. This movement should be dealt with maximum international aversion and protest, and be condemned worldwide.

We, the citizens of the world, must not allow a bunch of reactionaries in Iran or anywhere else to issue such rulings and bloodshed. Freedom of speech must be protected; secularism and the separation of religion from political power must be defended as must the right of criticism and unconditional right of freedom of expression.

Political Islam is a dark movement against humanity and against women. This movement is trying to spread its dark shadow over the entire world. This situation cannot be tolerated. One should not be submissive vis-à-vis such a Medieval and inhuman movement. Together, we must defend humanity’s achievements.

Saving the lives of Rafigh Taghi and Samir Sedaghat Oghloo is our task and the duty of an international front against political Islam.

Some Azerbaijani journalists have announced that they are abandoning Islam in protest to the fatwa ruling against the two. According to Journal Express published in Baku, Aghsheen Dada-of, a journalist and writer has said: We have thought a lot about this decision in the past, but after the arrest of Rafegh Taghi, we have made up our minds and are announcing this decision to the public… We abandon Islam, with the goal of reversing the fatwa and of stopping the religious practice of execution rulings against those who have freely expressed their thoughts. The writer of the article “Europe and us” in San-at journal, Rafegh Taghi, has the right to express his opinion about negative and positive aspects of the prophet Mohammed. Rafegh Taghi has expressed his opinion in an original and comprehensive way and did not intend to insult the prophet!’

This action is considered an important move in the campaign to save the lives of Rafegh Taghi and Samir Sedaghat Oghloo. We are inviting everyone to sign the petition and by doing so defend the two writers and freedom of speech. The international front against political Islam must rise against the fatwa of killing and assassination.

Defend the following:
1- Unconditional freedom of speech is the right of any human being.
2- The fatwa against these two writers is condemned.
3- Ayatollah Lankarani should be arrested and tried for issuing the fatwa and encouraging the killing of these two writers.
4- The government of Azerbaijan should be condemned for violating of the freedom of speech and for arresting these writers.
5- Rafigh Taghi and Samir Sedaghat Oghloo must be freed immediately.
6- The Islamic Republic of Iran is the founder and centre of propagation of such practices, and has in the past issued the same kind of fatwa against Salman Rushdie. This government should be isolated and condemned for its criminal acts.

To sign the petition, click here.

Mina Ahadi

Monday, December 11, 2006

Ahmadinejad Booed

Following a day of protest on December 6, which was led by the left wing socialist students in many universities in Iran, Ahmadinejad, the president of the Islamic regime attempted to speak at the Tehran Amir Kabir Technical College of Tehran University. The audience had been selected from the security forces, however the students of the university gate crashed the meeting and disrupted his meeting by shouting ‘Down with the Dictator’ and ‘Liar get lost!’ A picture of Ahmadinejad was set alight.

This is not the first protest against him as the media deceptively claims; there have been many such protests against him, Khatami, other heads of the regime and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
To see the latest issue of WPI Briefing 201, December 11, 2006, a monthly publication of the Worker-communist Party of Iran, click here.

In this month's issue:

* Freedom and Equality was the call of Students’ Day in Iran
* Nationwide student protests! A declaration from the Communist Youth Organisation
* There is no ‘right’ to nuclear weapons, TV International interview with Hamid Taqvaee
* Should Saddam Hussein be executed? Soheila Sharifi
* Religion’s role in the expansion of AIDS, Arash Sorx
* Campaign to save the lives of Rafigh Taghi and Samir Sedaghat Oghloo, Mina Ahadi
* Iran: Third bus union activist released; Ossanlou still in detention
* Ahmadinejad booed at Tehran University
* Maryam Namazie’s interviews and media coverage in the past weeks
* TV International will not be broadcast again until 16 January 2007

Sunday, December 10, 2006

BBC World Service: Islam, religion and secularism

Maryam Namazie appeared on BBC World Service Generation Next on Heart and Soul to respond to questions of several youth on Islam, religion and secularism. The programme is broadcast throughout the world on Sunday 10 December. The programme can also be heard for the entire week by clicking here.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Protests on Students' Day in Iran

See pictures of protests on Students' Day in Iran by clicking here.

The left-leaning plackards says: Freedom and Equality; Socialism or Barbarism; Free Political Prisoners; Students and Workers Unite; the University is not a military base and so on.

More on this in next week's TV International Programme.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Support the struggles of students in Iran!

Universities in Iran are an important battleground for people’s fight for emancipation. Student protests are a part of Iranian people’s huge fight for freedom and equality and maintaining a humane society. Every year on Students’ day (December the 7th which is called “16th of Azar” in Iranian Calendar is official Students’ Day in Iran. Students have used this day for left-wing protests in recent years), student upheavals in Iran are at their peak of challenging the Islamic Republic of Iran. This year, students are welcoming Students’ Day while the Islamic regime has strengthened its policy of oppression and intimidation in universities. Resisting students have been suspended or dismissed from university, faced with prison sentences or killed under suspicious circumstances. Universities of Iran, more than a place for education, have become a place for the mobilization of the regime’s security forces and the enforcement of reactionary Islamic regulations to suppress students.

The students’ fight against religious regulations and laws in society and the university has always been met with the repression of the regime’s police forces. So many times student struggles have turn to bloodshed with many losing their lives or facing long-term imprisonment. Despite the policy of oppression and persecution, though, the students’ struggle has not stopped. This year, like others, students are preparing for Students’ Day. They are organising a vast protest against the ruling regime and its reactionary laws and regulations. The freedom of political prisoners, clothing, and speech as well as an end to compulsory veiling, segregation of men and women, and students’ oppression are amongst their demands.

Students need international support!

The university in Iran is a base for the freedom and emancipation of all Iranian people. Therefore, they deserve your utmost support.

As the struggle of Tehran Bus Workers was met with warm international support, so too should the students’ struggles. Just as trade unions and human rights groups are defending the Tehran bus workers, student unions, trade unions, and human rights bodies should support the students.

We must not abandon them!

Don’t abandon the students in their fight against the ruling reactionaries in Iran for freedom and equality. Cover their struggles. Support them by any means possible, including organising solidarity meetings, joining demonstrations, sending letters of protest, signing petitions, etc. in condemnation of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s oppression of student. Demand the release of student prisoners. Demand the prosecution of those who have murdered student protestors. Support the students’ demands for the end to religious law and regulations in university and the policy of segregation of men and women in university campuses and society. Support their demand for pushing out security and oppressive forces from the universities. Support their campaign against compulsory veiling and their demand for an end to Sexual Apartheid!

Victory to Student’s struggle for Freedom and Equality!
Long Live International Solidarity with Iranian students!
Worker-communist Party of Iran – Organisation Abroad
December 3, 2006

* Let’s organise nationwide student protests on 16 Azar!
A declaration from the Communist Youth Organisation

Pressure on the student movement from the Islamic regime of Iran has never succeeded in stopping student protests. But this is not enough; we should make the protests united and nation-wide. We should take an offensive position. The recent protests of students in Amirkabir University, the hunger strike of students in Mazandaran province, the sit-in of Students in Zabol University and recent protests in Tarbiat Moalem University, Karaj are just examples that tell us about the capacity and potential of an offensive against Islamic rule and in breaking the police-like atmosphere of intimidation in universities.

On the eve of 16 Azar (December 7), we should expand the protests and respond to each and every offence of the Islamic Republic. We should protest the decrees of discipline committees, the presence of Basij and military forces and the police-like atmosphere of religious tyranny and inquisition in the universities. We should protest all forms of apartheid and separations between girls and boys. We should protest the lack of welfare facilities and the low quality of lectures. These protests should be united and nation-wide to build a fierce front against the Islamic regime. The widespread support of university protests is the first duty of all students. The students’ demands are the same in all the universities. Dismissal of oppressive security forces from educational centres, dismissal of religious bodies from the scientific atmosphere, and the abolition of sexual apartheid together with an increase in the scientific quality and services according to the highest international standards. These are the demands of all students. We should unite everywhere to secure these demands.

The Communist Youth Organisation calls on all students for coordinated, non-stop, and widespread struggles to reach these demands. The Islamic regime is not in a situation to bear wide protests. This actions and protests will be a base for a 16th of Azar, vaster and more Radical than ever.

The CYO now has an English publication called Iran Student News, which you can read by clicking here.

* Sign a petition in support of students in Iran

We, the undersigned, support the struggle of students in Iran and demand the release of imprisoned students and all other political prisoners in Iran.
Name Email address Town/City Organisation (If applicable)

Send this to: BM Box 1919, London WC1N 3XX or email to

DNA Magazine

See DNA magazine, Australia's best-selling magazine for gay men, on 2006’s Most Intriguing People by clicking here.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Iran: Three more bus workers’ union activists arrested

Three further activists of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs United Bus Company (Sherkat e Vahed) have been arrested today, 3 December, according to reports received from the union.

Seyyed Davoud Razavi and Abdolreza Taraazi, members of the Executive Board, and Gholamreza Gholam-Hosseini, another union activist, were arrested at the bus company’s Khavaran Depot while distributing a leaflet. They have reportedly been taken to the 6th Headquarters of the Security Police in Tehran. No charges have been filed against these worker activists.

They are among the 50 bus workers currently suspended without pay since the January 2006 strike. Mansoor Ossanlou, the head of the bus workers’ union, was re-arrested on 19 November after spending nearly eight months in prison, without any charge or trial.

To protest against these arbitrary detentions, please send your protest letters to the President of the Islamic Republic, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at . Please copy to us for info and further distribution.

Please also sign the protest letter campaign by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) for the immediate release of Mansoor Ossanlou by visiting the ITF website.

International Labour Solidarity Committee of the Worker-communist Party of Iran
Co-ordinator: Shahla Daneshfar (
Public Relations: Bahram Soroush (

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Everyone is equal under the law oh, except those who prefer Sharia


The BBC Radio 4 programme Law in Action this week claimed that it had uncovered evidence that Islamic sharia law was being practised in Britain in secret courts.

Youth worker Aydarus Yusuf, 29, told how he helped convene an unofficial court which uses a Somalian version of sharia which he claims is “cultural” rather than religious. He said a hearing was held in Woolwich, South-east London, after a group of youths were arrested on suspicion of attacking another Somali teenager. The victim’s family told police the matter would be settled out of court and the suspects were freed on bail. The trial was conducted by community elders who ordered the attackers to pay compensation to the victim. Mr Yusuf said: “The accused men admitted their guilt and apologised. All their uncles and fathers were there. They agreed compensation.”

He insisted he is more bound by the law of his country of birth than British justice, adding: “Somalis, wherever we live in the world, have our own law.” The strength of sharia law was the strict punishments. Assailants were unlikely to re-offend as it would bring shame on their families, he said.

A Scotland Yard source said it was common for the police not to proceed with assault cases if victims did not press charges.

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity said: “Sharia courts now operate in most larger cities, with different sectarian and ethnic groups operating their own courts that cater to their specific needs according to their tradition. The Government has not been straight about this. It has its own sharia advisers and it has already introduced measures that are compliant with sharia law. Muslim communities are creating their own infrastructure based on sharia law. A Muslim community can now function within its own society on every level.”

Dr Mohammed Naseem, chairman of Birmingham Central Mosque, said: “Sharia law states that you respect the law of the land and therefore it cannot be enforced in this country.”

Faizul Aqtab Siddiqi, a barrister and principal of Hijaz College Islamic University, near Nuneaton, Warwicks, said this type of court had advantages for Muslims. “It operates on a low budget, it operates on very small timescales and the process and the laws of evidence are far more lenient and it's less awesome an environment than the English courts,” he said. Mr Siddiqi predicted that there would be a formal network of Muslim courts within a decade.

Some academic lawyers welcome alternative legal systems. Dr Prakesh Shah, law lecturer at Queen Mary, University of London, said: “Tribunals like the Somali court could be more effective than the formal legal system in maintaining social harmony.”

NSS Honorary Associate Maryam Namazie commented: “Far from being lenient, Sharia law is harsh and inherently unjust. In countries where Sharia is the law of the land like in Iran, people are still being hung from city squares and stoned to death (with the law even specifying the size of the stone). Any increase in the implementation of Sharia law in this country will have a corresponding effect on injustice, threats against and intimidation of the most vulnerable in society. It will leave a large number of people in regressive fragmented ‘minority’ communities with relative rights and at the mercy of self-appointed and parasitical ‘community leaders’ and imams. Clearly, it is discriminatory to have different and separate systems, standards and norms for ‘different’ people and deny them universal and equal rights and standards and the secularism fought for and established by progressive movements over centuries.”

A spokeswoman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “Sharia law will not be introduced to the whole or any part of the UK. We are absolutely clear that existing British law applies to everyone.”

The above was published on Newsline, 1 December 2006. To read the rest of the weekly National Secular Society publication, click here.

To read about why Sharia courts have to be opposed, read a speech I gave in Canada against the establishment of a court there. An international campaign was successful in preventing it from happening. If need be, we have to do the same here.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Women's Right to Equality

See article in The Australian, which quotes my piece on the veil by clicking here.

BTW, thanks for all the comments you have made here, in other blogs and or via email.

I will discuss the points you have raised along with those in the above article in my next TV programme.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Islamists' slippery debates, US foreign policy towards Iran, Zahra Kamalfar and Mostafa Tabatabainejad

See TV International by clicking here.

In this week's programme, I interview:

Fariborz Pooya on Islamists' slippery debates on rights and choice in the west

Hamid Taqvaee on changes in US foreign policy towards Iran

Farshad Husseini on Zahra Kamalfar and her children's languishing in a Moscow airport

And show a clip on the police attack on Mostafa Tabatabainejad at UCLA

Maryam Namazie

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Mansoor Ossanlou re-arrested

19 November 2006

At 8am today (local time), Mansoor Ossanlou, President of the Union of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (“Sherkat e Vahed”), was arrested in Tehran.

Ebrahim Madadi, union Vice President who was with Mansoor Ossanlou at the time of the arrest, was reportedly beaten up by the plain clothes’ security forces who carried out the arrest. Ossanlou's whereabouts are as yet unknown.

Mansoor Ossanlou, the head of Tehran’s bus workers’ union, was arrested in December last year, along with many other members and leaders of the union, during the bus workers’ protest. He spent more than seven and a half months in prison for his labour activities, without ever being formally charged. His release on 9th August 2006 came following a long worldwide campaign for his release and in support of the bus workers.

For more information, contact:
International Labour Solidarity Committee of the Worker-communist Party of Iran
Co-ordinator: Shahla Daneshfar ( Relations: Bahram Soroush (

7 women at risk of stoning

7 women are at risk of imminent execution by stoning in Iran. Sign the petition against it by clicking here.

This outrage has to be stopped now!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

‘Beyond the Veil: Perspectives on Muslim Women in a Western Secular Context’

It is crucial to speak about the rights of ‘Muslim’ women, go beyond the issue of the veil, and talk about secularism, particularly in light of the political Islamic movement’s assault on women and their rights, but restricting the debate in this way is seriously flawed.

Firstly, the so-called grouping of Muslim women is a constructed one. Out of the innumerable characteristics women have, why focus on their beliefs? Doing so, implies that religion informs the rights of all those labelled as Muslim (including very often people like myself - an atheist). This is not usually the case.

More importantly, why must women’s rights issues be discussed within the framework of religion or for that matter, with regard to the beliefs – real or imputed - of the woman whose rights are being discussed? Generally, this is not how rights are examined. For example, do we discuss domestic violence vis-à-vis Christian women or in the context of Christianity?

This seems to happen especially when it comes to Islam because of cultural relativism and a policy of minoritism. The British state prefers it to be so as it can ensure that these so-called Muslim women are forever alien to British society, ghettoized in regressive fragmented "minority" communities where they continue to face sexual apartheid and Islamic laws and customs. Their rights are not the highest standards available in society as one would expect but the most regressive and reactionary. To help ensure that it remains so, the state leaves the running of these Bantustans on the cheap to self-appointed ‘Muslim community’ leaders and ‘consultants on Muslim women’s affairs’ and continues with business as usual in wheeling and dealing with repressive Islamic states. The left, which is the traditional defender of women’s rights, shamelessly endorses the situation as it sees Islam and political Islam as ‘anti-imperialist’. As a result, no matter what happens - stonings and hangings in city squares in Iran or segregated Stop the War Coalition meetings in Birmingham and the manhandling of Iranian women’s rights activists in Manchester - they are quick to ignore violations of women’s rights. Hand in hand, they excuse and justify Islam and the political Islamic movement at the expense of women and their rights.

Clearly, a rights based discussion can’t begin with Islam but has to begin with the woman and her rights. In my opinion, you can either defend women or you must defend Islam. You can’t defend both because they are incompatible with and antithetical to each other.

In Islam a woman is sub-human, subservient, vilified and the property of men. To say that women have an elevated position under Islam is an insult to our intellect. Islam has wreaked more havoc, slaughtered more women, and committed more misogyny than can be denied, excused, re-interpreted, or covered up with such feeble defences.

According to the Koran, for example, those who are guilty of an 'indecency' must be 'confined until death takes them away or Allah opens some way for them.' (The Women, 4.15). 'Men are the maintainers of women' and 'good' women are obedient. Those that men fear 'desertion', can be admonished, confined and beaten' (The Women, 4.34). Wives are a 'tilth' for men, which they can go into their 'tilth' when they like (The Cow, 2.223) and on and on.

To say it is a problem of interpretation as some ‘Islamic feminists’ do is at best self-justification of one’s beliefs or at worst the justification of a right wing political Islamic movement, which targets women first and foremost.

Let me give you an example of the absurdity of re-interpretations. On the verse that allows women to be beaten, so-called Islamic feminists say ‘Islam only permits violence after admonishment and confinement and as a last resort. They say, since men would beat their wives mercilessly at that time, this is a restriction on men to beat women more mercifully’ (Women Living Under Muslim Laws, For Ourselves Women Reading the Koran, 1997). Or another says 'In extreme cases, and whenever greater harm, such as divorce, is a likely option, it allows for a husband to administer a gentle pat to his wife that causes no physical harm to the body nor leaves any sort of mark. It may serve, in some cases, to bring to the wife's attention the seriousness of her continued unreasonable behaviour' (Gender Equity in Islam Web Site).

Suffice it to say that misogyny cannot be interpreted to be pro-woman even if it is turned on its head.

Of course everyone has the right to believe anything they choose – however medieval and reactionary. Moreover, tolerance of the right to hold such beliefs is part and parcel of a civil society but that is very different to allowing beliefs to inform women’s rights or even tolerating the belief itself. Moreover, the question of choice is a questionable one when it comes to this situation. Of course an adult woman has the right to believe she must be veiled; must be beaten by her husband if she disobeys him; must be given the permission of her male guardian before she can travel or work; is not eligible for certain areas of study or work because of her ‘emotions’; should be stoned if she has sex outside of marriage and so on and so forth.

But if you remove all forms of intimidation and threats by Islamists, Islamic laws, racism, cultural relativism and ghetto-isation, the recruiting grounds for the political Islamic movement, etc., I can assure you that there will be very few women who will want to discuss their rights within the framework of Islam.

That rights are discussed in this way is more of an indication of the strength of the political Islamic movement in this country than anything else. Which is why ‘Islamic feminists’ or ‘consultants on Muslim Women’s affairs’ are more concerned about Islam than the woman and her rights.

Another example of this is their constant attempt at setting limits for who can and can’t discuss ‘Muslim women’s rights’. I thought the whole point of defending rights was to mobilise as much support as you can rather than establishing an exclusive club of the few who are allowed to say anything on the subject!

Anytime anyone discusses women’s status under Islam, s/he is labelled ‘Islamophobic’ and ‘racist’, a ‘white feminist’ supporter who ignores European and US imperialism’s battle over ‘Muslim women’s bodies’, a supporter of the USA’s threats and militarism, a ‘supporter of the war on terror’, and so on and so forth. Not to forget that s/he will be told that there are more important things in the world today – like poverty or US imperialism (this one crops up all the time), and of course that the crimes of the US government is much worse and must be the main and only focus…

What utter nonsense!

Criticising Islam (a belief) and political Islam (a right wing reactionary movement that has raised Islam as its banner) has nothing to do with racism no matter how many deceptively claim it to be so. Criticising the belief in and practice of Female Genital Mutilation does not mean you are vilifying or inciting hatred against girls and women who believe they should be or are mutilated.

Moreover, solidarity amongst people has nothing to do with their skin colour, place of residence or governments under which they were born or live under.

Also, saying a defence of women’s rights living under Islamic rules supports the war on terror or the USA’s militarism or colonialism and imperialism is like saying sex education promotes promiscuity. Saying so is more an attempt to defend religion than anything else.

And, why must a comparison be made with other outrages in the world. Yes the US government is one pole of international terrorism in the world today but what does that have to do with a defence of women’s rights living under the yoke of Islamic laws and rules?

Do we tell the environmentalist that children’s rights are more important because children are so vulnerable? Do we tell the anti-racist activist that poverty is more important than racism because you have to be fed to be alive? It is only when discussing women’s rights and those whose rights are deemed culturally relative that such arguments crop up.

And it only seems to come up with Islam and political Islam. No one says we shouldn’t condemn the Israeli occupation of Palestine or Tony Blair because US militarism is the main problem of our times.

And of course we keep hearing about how Jack Straw or the French government have mentioned the veil and our doing so puts us in the same boat as them. How so? I want a ban on the burka, neqab and child veiling. I think child veiling is a violation of children’s rights. I want the veil banned in all public institutions and the educational system. I will criticise the hejab as a tool for the repression of women even if some have the ‘right’ to ‘choose’ veiling. And I want much more done to religion, including an end to faith schools and the taxation of all these religious ‘charities’ and mosques…

Are we really supposed to stop speaking against the death penalty – for example - because Tony Blair is also against the death penalty in some way shape or form?

In this context, I think the defence of the veil as ‘a form of clothing’, ‘expression of faith’, ‘matter of choice’ and so on and so forth is more of the same. Saying we need to go beyond the veil implies that it is a superficial matter and that there are more important issues at stake. This is not the case.

The veil is a symbol like no other of what it means to be a woman under Islam - hidden from view, bound, and gagged. It is a tool for restricting and suppressing women. Of course there are some who choose to be veiled, but you cannot say it is a matter of choice because - socially speaking - the veil is anything but. There is no ‘choice’ for most women. In countries under Islamic rule, it is compulsory. Even here, in Britain, according to a joint statement about the veil from ‘Muslim groups, scholars and leaders’, including the Muslim Council of Britain, Hizb ut Tahrir and Islamic ‘Human Rights’ Commission, it is stated that the veil ‘is not open to debate’. The statement goes so far as to ‘advise all Muslims to exercise extreme caution in this issue since denying any part of Islam may lead to disbelief.’

And you know what they do disbelievers when they can – kill them.

As I have said before, take away all the pressure and intimidation and threats and you will see how many remain veiled.

In my opinion, debating the issue of women’s rights within an Islamic context is a prescription for inaction and passivity in the face of the oppression of millions of women struggling and resisting in Britain, the Middle East and elsewhere. Stripped bare it is a dishonest defence of Islam pure and simple and has nothing to do with women’s rights.

We must not allow the political Islamic movement to shift and redefine the debate on women’s rights. Anywhere they have power, to be a woman is a crime. In places like Britain, however, where they are vying for political power, they aim to control women relegated to their constructed regressive community via a deceptive discourse on ‘rights’ and ‘choice’ whilst defending Islamic law and repressive groups and states in the Middle East and elsewhere. They are an extension of the same movement that stones women to death and throws acid in their faces if they are improperly veiled. The stronger they become, the more repressed are women in the so-called Muslim community.

In the face of this onslaught, secularism, universalism and values worthy of 21st century humanity have to be defended and promoted unequivocally. We must hold the human being sacred. We must start first and foremost with the human being. We must stop sub-dividing people into a million categories beginning with religion and not even ending in Human. We must not allow concessions to religion at the expense of women; we must not allow the respect for and toleration of misogynist beliefs and practices. We have a duty to criticise and challenge Islam and its movement especially given what it is doing to women today.

At a minimum, we must demand the complete separation of religion from the state and educational system. Secularism is an important vehicle to protect society from religion's intervention in people's lives. A person's religion has to be a private affair.

Only an unequivocal defence of universal rights, secularism and the de-religionisation of rights and values will begin to defend women and their rights and challenge head on the outrage of this century.

The above is a speech given at Goodenough College on November 13, 2006.

Maryam Namazie

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Challenges to Zahra Kamalfar’s imminent deportation to Iran

Moments of resistance
Latest Update from Farshad Hoseini, Executive Director of the International Federation of Iranian Refugees

Today was a very important day in the life of Zahra Kamalfar and her children who have been languishing in Moscow’s airport for some time now. It was like a hidden war between a mother and her two innocent children on the one hand and the officers and security guards of the airport on the other.

I contacted Zahra every hour. She is disappointed, disturbed and afraid. She asks herself, can anybody really save my life? She tells me she suspects that the authorities are going to do something today; she is under constant surveillance.

I am on the phone with every organisation and personality I can think of – from Geneva, Moscow, to London to demand that they help and intervene.

I will write all I can about her case. I will publish all my conversations with her and all the responses I have received thus far to show the world how humanity has been forgotten.

I have been with Zahra via telephone. She tells me they have picked up their belongings and are ordering her and her children to follow them. She begins resisting. Via telephone I can clearly hear her anger. They try to remove her mobile phone. For a few seconds, I could only hear the voices of the Russian police and Zahra demanding that they return her phone. She says: ‘You have no right to keep my telephone’. I can hear her children crying. I am disconnected.

After 30 minutes I manage to contact Zahra again. It was very near to the time she was to be forcibly placed on an Aeroflot flight to Iran. I find out that that Zahra and her children are surrounded by police and airport guards. My next contact with her is after 15 minutes. Anna, her daughter has drunk shampoo to protest their deportation. I could only hear crying, groaning, and the voices of emergency aid workers. The Aeroflot flight has left without Zahra and her children.

So with this resistance, we have another day to stop their deportation to Iran. Another day to secure their legitimate right to asylum. Tomorrow (Wednesday 22 November) is another important day in the struggle to save Zahra and her children. We have to win.
Don’t wait for a tragic end to this story. We must do some thing to end this drama in their favour.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Saddam Hussein, Veil and US elections

To see this week's TV International Programme, click here. The programme interviews:

● Sohaila Sharifi (a survivor of chemical bombardment in Iraq) on her grievance against Saddam Hussein and her opposition to his execution
● Clip of Maryam Namazie’s debate with Islamists on More4 TV on Muslims and Islam in Britain
● Interview with Azar Majedi on the veil
● Interview with Hamid Taqvaee on the US mid-term elections

In next week's programme I wil be highlighting the case of Zahra Kamalfar. Given its urgency, please click here to find out about her situation. She is trapped in the Moscow airport with her two children awaiting deportation to Iran. To defend her, sign a petition organised by the International Federation of Iranian Refugees.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Ban Child Veiling

See Reza Moradi's brilliant animation calling for a ban on child veiling by clicking here.

If you want to know, why child veiling should be banned, read my article on it by clicking here.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

On 'Muslims' in Britain, the Veil and Secularism

  • On November 10, Maryam Namazie took part in a debate on 'Muslim in Britain' on David Starkey’s Last Word on More4 with two Islamists from the Muslim Council of Britain and Hizb ul Tahrir. More to follow on the programme. However, for now, to see a clip of the programme, click here.
  • On Monday 13th November, Maryam Namazie will be speaking at a talk in London entitled ‘Beyond the Veil: Perspectives on Muslim Women in a Western Secular Context’ as a part of a run up to the Goodenough Conference, The Mosaic of Multiculturalism: Pieces Falling? Changing Perceptions and Reality in Britain. She will be debating with Humera Khan, consultant on Muslim affairs, founder of An-Nisa Society for Muslim women and families in the UK and Maleiha Malik, Lecturer in Anti-Discrimination Law at King's College, and author of the book, Feminism and Muslim Women. The talk will take place at the Churchill Room at 8pm. The talk is being sponsored by the Women's Forum, Goodenough College, Mecklenburgh Square, London WC1N 2AB.
  • On November 26 at 6:30pm, Maryam Namazie will be speaking on ‘Secularism and Humanism are not Religions or Belief Systems’. Namazie will discuss the dangers of regarding secularism and humanism as a form of religion, belief or dogma. She will argue that, in addition to this being untrue, it tends to prevent proponents of these ideas from challenging religion head on and putting human beings first. The Leicester Secular Society is the oldest secular society in the world. For more information, go to Leicester Secular Society site.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Certainly not justice: on Saddam Hussein’s execution

Clearly, Saddam Hussein has committed crimes against humanity and acts of genocide – many of them whilst on the payroll of western governments. He must be held accountable and justice must be served but not in this way. Not in a sham victor’s court. And not the death penalty.

In a country which has been turned into a swamp and nightmare, the death penalty only further brutalises a brutalised society. It cannot be allowed to take place.

According to Mansoor Hekmat, ‘capital punishment is the most deplorable and appalling form of intentional murder since a political authority, publicly, with prior notice, on behalf of society, with the utmost legitimacy and ruthlessness, decides to murder someone, and announces the date and time of the event.’ (See full interview below.)


Read the Worker-communist Party of Iran's PR and an interview with Mansoor Hekmat on Capital Punishment, the most Deplorable form of Deliberate Murder, below:

On Saddam Hussein’s Death Sentence

On Sunday, November 5 right wing international press outlets published the verdict of Saddam Hussein and his step brother’s death sentences with hysterical jubilation and euphoria. They sold this verdict as ‘serving justice’ on behalf of the victims of Saddam’s criminal rule and declared that people in Iraq, except in ‘the Sunni dominated areas’ celebrated this verdict. They broadcast an image of the Iraqi people as vengeful and supportive of the US government and its army.

The nature of Saddam’s regime and its record is very clear for the people of the world and the majority of people in Iraq. For decent people everywhere, Saddam, Khamenei, the Taliban and Bush are all criminals and, to the same extent, deserve to be brought to justice.

However, this puppet court does not have the right to do so, does not represent the people of Iraq, is not an independent institution nor is it serving ‘justice’ by executing Saddam Hussein. The timing of this verdict which coincides with the USA’s mid-term elections exposes the political motivation of this charade. The court verdict seems to be on order of the US government amidst the electoral contest and an attempt to defuse people’s opposition to Bush’s policies which in the last month alone has brought home more than a hundred body bags to the US.

One day, Saddam Hussein and his co-criminals have to stand trial in an independent and just court with full access to a defence. However, apart from political exploitation of the verdict of the puppet court, this verdict restores the death sentence in Iraq, and this itself reveals the foundations on which ‘project Iraqi freedom’ is to be built upon. The death sentence for Saddam and his brother is the continuation of the invasion of Iraq, destruction of Iraqi society, destruction of civility and life of Iraqi people, the abandonment of the Iraqi people to the mercy of ultra-reactionary groups and re-establishment of state promoted murder in Iraq. This court and its verdict declare the moral and political bankruptcy of the United States government and the allies.

The Worker-communist Party of Iran resolutely opposes capital punishment and fights for its abolition internationally. The execution of prisoners of war only demonstrates the military barbarity and criminality which sees its survival in the continuation of the same crime and order. A humane outlook and opposition to capital punishment is not only for sunny days; on the contrary it must be implemented when criminals are on trial. Defence of human dignity and humanity is not an empty slogan, but must be applied to criminals as well. The restoration of capital punishment has always been argued as an attempt to ‘safeguard society from crime’ but in reality, it has been the main tool of the ruling classes to suppress and physically remove opponents of the dominant force. The hanging of Saddam Hussein and his brother will not reduce even an iota of the miseries of the people of Iraq, but will enhance the dimensions of terror, revenge, vengeance, intimidation and crime. The execution of this verdict, not only moves Iraqi society into another cycle of tribal and religious hatred and confrontation, but in the name of ‘the people of Iraq’ and ‘justice’ will sanction the setting up of gallows to hang citizens and opponents of the pentagon appointed government in Iraq.

Justice has never been achieved with killing and hanging criminals. We must remove the source of injustice and crime. The Worker-communist Party of Iran calls for a vast and comprehensive movement to abolish capital punishment internationally. In opposition to the deceitful actions of the leaders of the ‘New World Order’ and outrageous celebration of ‘freedom of people’ with setting up of gallows, the socialist movement must more than ever before insist on the abolishment of capital punishment and condemn such criminal state policies.

Worker-communist Party of Iran
6 November 2006

Capital Punishment, the most Deplorable form of Deliberate Murder
Interview with Mansoor Hekmat

Question: In its literature, the Worker-communist Party of Iran has clearly spoken about the necessity of abolishing capital punishment. What is the WPI's reasoning behind the necessity of abolishing capital punishment?

Mansoor Hekmat: Capital punishment is the state's terminology for murder. Individuals murder each other, but states sentence individuals to 'capital punishment.' The demand to end capital punishment and prohibit murder stems from opposition to intentional, deliberate and planned murder of one by the other. That a state or ruling political force is responsible does not make the slightest difference to the fact that we are dealing with intentional murder. Capital punishment is the most deplorable and appalling form of intentional murder since a political authority, publicly, with prior notice, on behalf of society, with the utmost legitimacy and ruthlessness, decides to murder someone, and announces the date and time of the event.

Question: With the abolishment of capital punishment, how can grievances be filed against murderers?

Mansoor Hekmat: It is an interesting question. With the abolishment of capital punishment, right from the start, a leading murderer, the state, will immediately be stopped. Your question implies that capital punishment has been invented to file grievances against murderers or that lawmakers found it suitable for the crime of murder after lengthy deliberations. Capital punishment, however, has nothing to do with murder in society. It has its own history. It is the state's rights and powers over citizens today as a continuation of the state's rights and powers in the past. When Agha Mohammad Khan Ghajar blinds and kills residents of an entire town, he is not objecting to a specific crime. When a horse thief in America is hanged or a soldier who has escaped military service is executed, they are not registering a grievance in a judicial sense, but rather they are putting people in their places and forcing them to submit to rules and regulations. They are terrorising people. They are governing. In today's world, capital punishment is not just a so-called punishment for murder, it is also a punishment for unauthorised sex, hoarding, believing in common ownership, forming opposition parties, mocking of god and prophets, homosexuality, etc. From the beginning of state rule, the killing of inhabitants has always been and is a pillar of forcing people into submission. The history of capital punishment is not found in judicial debates about crime and punishment, but rather in the history of class rule and the state. States kill their citizens today. This must be stopped.

You ask if there is no capital punishment, what we can do with murderers. The killing of murderers is a repetition of murder. This cannot be done. What else can be done depends on the judicial philosophy of society. In the current system, a murderer could be imprisoned. Perhaps in an ideal society, people could be protected from the repetition of murder, or the murderer could be made to understand its offensiveness, without even taking away his/her freedom. In an ideal society, it may even be possible to create conditions so that pre-meditated murder does not occur.

Question: How would the WPI treat the Pasdaran (Revolutionary Guards) and torturers who are captured and found guilty of murder?

Mansoor Hekmat: There are no capital punishment or life sentences in our system of laws. Clearly, these people should be imprisoned and worked on so that they can return to society and be forgiven.

Question: Without capital punishment, how will families of the murdered obtain justice?

Mansoor Hekmat: The idea that the family of the victim owns the victim's blood and that justice is a debt owed by society is a backward and unacceptable concept. The victim's family's sadness and sorrow is undeniable. But if capital punishment is allowed to appease their sorrows, why is murder not excused for similar emotions? Can anyone who has suffered humiliation, been crushed, lost everything, become a drug addict, bankrupt or homeless commit murder to appease bitter emotions? Is the state a killing machine, which individuals refer to for retribution? Is justice a concept replacing retribution? The meaning of justice should be discussed later. The concept is not so objective and beyond the class system that some might think.

Question: Would not the abolition of capital punishment result in increased crime?

Mansoor Hekmat: No, the reverse. As I said before, the long list of state sponsored murders will immediately stop. The US government and its prosecutors are the busiest professional murderers in that country. The abolishment of capital punishment is like arresting 150 serial killers at once! Furthermore, a society that legally permits the killing of human beings can never prevent its repetition by the general public. The abolition of capital punishment and declaring the value of human life is the first step in the struggle against a culture of murder in society. Official statistics clearly show that in Holland, Scandinavia and Britain where capital punishment are prohibited, the murder rate (in ratio to the population) is far less than in the United States.

Question: In your opinion, what should be the objectives of punishing criminals?

Mansoor Hekmat: I am not sure if punishment is basically a good word for a humane judicial system. In my opinion, aside from prevention and removing the social, economic and cultural bases of crime, society must first, with minimal use of force and minimal deprivation of the offender's normal life, protect itself from the repetition of an offence. Secondly, it must help these individuals transform. I think that retribution and punishments that make examples of persons must be banned. We must reach a point where society so distances itself from violence that it treats it like natural disasters, rushing in to help the victims, making efforts to avoid its repetition and minimise the damage, without sacrificing anyone by throwing them in the volcano or the sea.

Question: If the abolition of capital punishment is to value human life and the right to live, then how do we pursue the demand for the freedom of political prisoners who have killed innocent human beings during the course of their political actions? What should be done to a fighter who has planted a bomb on a bus or other place and consequently killed one or more persons? Must we demand their freedom?

Mansoor Hekmat: I do not call an individual who plants a bomb on buses and planes, a fighter. Unfortunately, for a specific period, this method became popular in some legitimate movements and was later elevated to an art of killing under the guise of politics by some reactionary movements. I do not have general formula to deal with them. It depends on the state they are fighting against, on the judicial standards of the given country and its legal legitimacy and on the conditions under which it occurs. In my opinion, the case of those who bomb non-military targets is not a political case. It is possible to provide secondary political reasons for the crime, but the case is not a political one. However, if those who have attacked non-military targets are to be arrested and tried, several Western presidents and prime ministers, hundreds of American and European bureaucrats, generals and commanders will be the first to be accused. I see no difference between Timothy McVeigh who committed such a massive crime in Oklahoma and those who bombed shelters, schools and houses, killing so many in Baghdad.

Question: Which authority must try these?

Mansoor Hekmat: A power that has legal legitimacy. According to their definition, despotic governments do not have such legitimacy. In my opinion, to try the general Schwartzkopfs and the Bin Ladens, acceptable courts could be found or created even in this bourgeois world.

Question: What is your definition of a political prisoner?

Mansoor Hekmat: In my opinion, there are two categories of political prisoners and prisoners of war, which are relevant to this discussion. A political prisoner is someone who is in prison for opposing a government. Accordingly political prisoners must be freed. There should not be any trial. Anyone who has carried out political activities against a government must not be arrested. Moreover, prisoners of war have not committed any crimes and must not be deprived of their civil rights, including freedom. This of course is not only a matter between states. In my opinion, members of guerrilla organisations who have declared war on states and have been captured must be entitled to the same rights as prisoners of war. Current laws must profoundly be changed in favour of these prisoners. Imprisoning an individual and depriving him/her of their normal life must be banned. But arrangements could be made to prevent the individual from re-joining his/her army until the end of the war or until it is ensured that s/he will not take part in the war again. Finally, we have another concept of war crimes. This concept must be seriously redefined and include all instances in which forces attack non-military and civilian structures. In recent years, we have witnessed the most widespread war crimes committed by western and local governments in different countries such as Iraq and Yugoslavia. There are many war criminals that roam freely among people as leaders, national heroes and patriots who must be tried.

Question: What are the reasons behind Islamic fundamentalists' insistence and eagerness on annihilating and killing their opponents?

Mansoor Hekmat: I have not researched whether someone is first attracted to murdering and then becomes an Islamic fundamentalist or vice versa but I am sure the answer is somewhere in your question.

The above is a summary of an interview first published in Persian in Khavaran, the quarterly of the Organisation in Defence of Political Prisoners in Iran, Fall 2000. It was reprinted in International Weekly No. 26, November 3, 2000. The English version is a reprint from WPI Briefing. Translators: Maryam Namazie and Fariborz Pooya.

Maryam Namazie

Sunday, November 05, 2006

In pursuit of Khatami, a wanted man

The visit to the UK of Khatami, the ex-president of the Islamic regime of Iran, was an attempt by the British government and its cohorts in academia and foreign policy think tanks to promote a kinder gentler Islam with Khatami as the poster boy. They failed in their attempt to cover up the ugly face of this brutal regime because of our protests. We showed the world that he is a wanted man for crimes against the people of Iran, despite the absurd protestations that he was only the president and a ‘reformist’ at that!

Of course he came and went but not in the manner they had wanted. Whilst St. Andrews gave Khatami his honorary doctorate of law, the laureation address had to say: ‘Our University cannot offer … endorsement for each of his beliefs or for actions carried out in his name.’ Khatami also had to enter via a side entrance when he got to Chatham House in London because of the protests by hundreds who had gathered there to expose him. Moreover, much of the media reports around his visit mentioned his crimes and role in the vile Islamic regime of Iran.

Clearly, we will not allow him or any of the other heads of the regime to come and go as they please and deceive the world with talk of civilisations and cultures and what not in an effort to whitewash the slaughter that has taken place in Iran.

We will continue to represent the desire of the people of Iran and the world to rid itself of this inhumanity.

Until next time.

Maryam Namazie

Radio Interview on Khatami's visit to the UK

Listen to the coverage of protests to Khatami's visit, here.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Hundreds protest against Khatami's visit to Chatham House

To see more pictures from the demonstration at Chatham House, London, in opposition to Khatami's invitation there, click here.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Monday, October 30, 2006

Nothing could be more offensive! On St Andrews University’s invitation to ex-president Khatami

Mr Khatami, a former president of the Islamic Republic of Iran (1997-2005) has been invited to St Andrews University on October 31 to receive an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws in recognition of his ‘efforts to encourage interfaith dialogue’.

Giving a theocrat a degree in secular law and doing so ‘considering global tensions relating to… faiths’ that incidentally he and his regime have been instrumental in creating is like giving PW Botha or FW De Klerk honorary degrees in race relations in recognition of their efforts to encourage inter-race dialogue!

Nothing could be more offensive, not only to those of us who have fled or lost loved ones to this vile regime but also to the innumerable who have lost lives and limbs to Islamists everywhere.

But there is more. In its attempt to dispel any illusion that it is organising student protests against this action as reported in media outlets [it is the National Union of Students, we and others who are doing so], the University of St Andrews Students’ Association’s statement blatantly and shamelessly defends Khatami and his presidency.

It asserts that Mr Khatami was never the ‘highest ranking political or judicial authority in the land, and held minimal influence...’ Clearly, this is untrue. Saying so is a deliberate attempt at whitewashing his role in the crimes of the Islamic regime of Iran. Power sharing mechanisms in a government, however dictatorial, do not mean that the executive role lacks power.

One case in point is the April 1997 German court’s verdict that found the then president responsible for the September 1992 assassinations of opposition leaders in Berlin. The court found that the killings had been ordered by a ‘Committee for Special Operations’ whose members included the Leader (Khamenei), the president, the Minister of Information and Security and other security officials.

In the past week, too, Argentine prosecutors have issued warrants for a former president for directing Hezbollah to carry out the 1994 bombing of the Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people and wounded hundreds.

And today, there are reports of two Iranian exiles, Safa Einollahi, 29, and Ali Ebrahimi, 34, who have lodged complaints under the 1988 Criminal Justice Act against Khatami for his accountability in the atrocities and tortures they endured as political prisoners.

Far from the rosy picture often portrayed in the Western media, Khatami’s presidency has been anything but.

During his bloody rule, over 1,300 people were executed, including sweet 16 year old Atefeh Rajabi for ‘acts incompatible with chastity’; 27 people were stoned to death or sentenced to die by stoning, 18 of them women; student and other demonstrations were crushed and their leaders arrested or killed; Ahmad Batebi was given a death sentence for holding up a bloody t-shirt; an opposition activist in Kurdistan, Showaneh Qaderi, was shot and his body dragged through the streets; Arezoo Siabi Shahrivar was arrested along with up to 14 other women, at a ceremony commemorating the 1988 “prison massacre” in Evin prison, Tehran, in which thousands of political prisoners were executed. In detention she was suspended from the ceiling, beaten with a wire cable and sexually abused. Journalists and webloggers were detained; papers were shut down; the Canadian journalist, Zahra Kazemi was tortured and murdered in prison; the murders of two political activists and three writers – a case known in Iran as the “Serial Murders” took place; hundreds of labour activists were arrested and tortured and on and on.

Only in a topsy turvy world can a president who oversaw such murder and mayhem not be deemed accountable...

And it was not only his eight years as president that Khatami is accountable for. In the 1980s in the Majlis, Khatami was known as an active member of the Line of the Imam, the dominant grouping within a party set up via Khomeini’s decree and most closely identified with Khomeini’s policies, including his theory of velayat-e faqih, or absolute clerical supremacy in government. Mr Khatami was appointed the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, and was the chief censor in film, media, arts and culture. As a member of the Supreme Council on Cultural Revolution, Khatami played an important role in purging dissidents from universities and educational centres. Moreover, he was the director of cultural affairs in the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces and the head of the War Propaganda Headquarters for years. Today, too, he remains a member of several organs of the Islamic regime.

Absurdly, though, whilst being declared powerless, Khatami is also always lauded as a reformer; the St Andrews Students’ Association statement asserts that he ‘strove for moderation and liberalisation whilst in office’.

This is a contradiction in terms.

One cannot have minimal influence and be a reformer at the same time. Moreover, reforms have a specific meaning in our world – changes, particularly in law, which improve the lot of the population at large. Again, this was never the case. In fact, Khatami and his ‘reformist’ faction were merely attempts by the regime to put forward a more palatable face in order to prolong its life given the explosive situation in Iran.


In the face of escalating protests and opposition to Khatami’s visit, the university persists in its decision to confer an honorary degree upon him and in its rewriting of contemporary history. A spokesperson for the university has said the decision to invite Khatami was based on his “vision and willingness to change”. At least Chancellor Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democratic leader, has pulled out from presenting the degree before it turns into a scandal for him.

But this is not enough.

Far from honouring him with a degree, Khatami should be arrested for his crimes against the people of Iran.

On Tuesday, we will be there at St Andrews to remind the world that we will not allow it to forget what has taken and is taking place in Iran. We ask students and professors alike, along with concerned and outraged people everywhere to join us in preventing a centre of science from being transformed into a bastion of reaction.

And on this note, it is apt to end with Khatami’s own words at Harvard University this past September when questioned about the execution of gays in Iran:

We’re at a university, the cradle of science, so we can speak of it scientifically...In all schools of thought and in all religions there is punishment and punishment is not a form of violence...Punishment is seen as a response to violence or deviance in society and if there is no punishment in a society a society cannot run effectively…’

And that is Khatami’s unchanged vision pure and simple.

Maryam Namazie

Join protests against Khatami!

Join the protests
Khatami is a criminal!
He must be arrested and put on trial!

Tuesday 31 October
3:00- 6:00pm
In front of University of St Andrews
St Andrews
Fife KY16 9AJ

Maryam Namazie, 2005 Secularist of the Year, Director of the Worker-communist Party of Iran's International Relations Committee

Wednesday 1 November 2006, 4:30 – 6:30pm
Chatham House
10 St James's Square
London SW1Y 4LE
Nearest tube station: Piccadilly Circus /Green Park

- Sofie Buckl, National Executive of the National Union of Students
-Azar Majedi, Director of the Organisation for Women’s Liberation
-Maryam Namazie, 2005 Secularist of the Year, Director of the Worker-communist Party of Iran's International Relations Committee
- Keyvan Javid, Worker-communist Party of Iran

For more information, contact 07984445278 / 07886973423.

Worker-communist Party of Iran - UK Organisation
International Federation of Iranian Refugees- UK
Communist Youth Organisation –UKOrganization for Women’s Liberation

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Join Nov 1 protest against Khatami

Wednesday 1 November 2006
From 4:30 – 6:30pm
Chatham House
10 St James's Square
London SW1Y 4LE
Nearest tube station: Piccadilly Circus /Green Park

Former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami has been invited by Chatham House London and the University of St Andrews to deliver a speech and receive an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws.

Khatami has always been introduced to the world as the smiling and reformist face of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He is famous for his ‘dialogue of civilizations’, a term he first used in a speech to the UN general assembly in September 1998.

But reality is far from the western media’s portrayals of Mohammad Khatami. During the eight years of his presidency:

· more than 200 people were executed,
· tenfold of women were sentenced to death by stoning,
· 4 workers from Khatoon Abad (Babak Shahir) were killed for going on strike,
· Students’ demonstration in commemoration of 9 July 2004 was brutally crushed on his orders,
· The organised killings of dissidents known as the ‘serial murders’ took place when he was in power.
· Women had no rights and were constantly harassed. Any protest against the discriminatory laws was answered by whips, arrests, torture, humiliation and imprisonment,
· Many homosexuals were arrested and sentenced to long term imprisonment or execution,
· Thousands of people were arrested and tortured for trying to defend their human rights against the Islamic regime,
· Hundreds of workers’ strikes and demonstrations and students’ and women’s protests and nurses and teachers strikes were savagely attacked and suppressed,
And the list is endless…

Mohammed Khatami and the regime he was its president for eight years have done nothing but organizing terror and murder and oppression. Khatami and all other leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran are criminals and must be tried in the international courts for their crimes against humanity.

During the eight years of Khatami’s presidency, the persecution and murder of the Iranian people continued non-stop. As far as the Iranian people are concerned, inviting Khatami and providing him with podiums to speak and treating him as a respectable politician is condemned. Khatami has, doubtlessly incited violence against people in Iran and his government has helped Islamic terrorism in the Middle East; inviting him as a respectable person for civilized dialogue is despicable and unacceptable.

The Worker-communist Party of Iran is against giving the criminal leaders of the Islamic regime any opportunity to travel around the world and pretend that they are opening civilized dialogues, while at the same time they are murdering and torturing Iranian people and clearly supporting international Islamic terrorism.

We call upon all freedom lovers, individuals and international human bodies to make their protest heard and to demand Khatami’s arrest and international trial as a criminal.

Please send your protest letters to:
The Chatham House Press Office:
Foreign Secretary: email:, fax: 020 7219 5365
University of St Andrews, Menzies Campbell, Chancellor,

For more information about the protest call 07950924434.

Worker-communist Party of Iran - UK Organisation
International Federation of Iranian Refugees- UK
Communist Youth Organisation –UK

On Jack Straw and the Veil

Visit TV International English site for an interesting interview with Hamid Taqvaee on the veil in this week's programme by clicking here.

More to follow on this issue here on this blog.

Two sides of one coin

A 21st century worthy of human beings is difficult to envision when our lives, our rights, our children, cities, schools and homes – are caught in the crossfire in a war of terrorists.

On the one hand, we are faced with US-led militarism. Iraq is a model for what the USA represents for the 21st century. No claims of weapons of mass destruction, liberation from dictatorship, a defence of rights and a war on terror can conceal its real nature. In
Iraq, it is stripped naked and bare. But that is only one part of 21st century reality. The other pole of international terrorism in the world today - political Islam - is no better. It hangs the likes of sweet 16 year old Atefeh Rajabi for 'acts incompatible with chastity', stones Maryam Ayoubi for adultery, throws acid in the faces of those who refuse to veil, and places bombs on buses and in trains in crowded city centres. While this movement makes many claims as the USA does in order to legitimise its barbarity -from people's liberation, resistance, to rights - they are only claims to dupe and legitimise. It cares as much for the liberation of the people of Palestine and Iraq as the USA does - not more, not less.

Both will indiscriminately maim and slaughter the very people they claim to defend. Both in fact target civilians.

For you and me, in practical terms - notwithstanding the differences - the USA and political Islam are two sides of one coin. They have the same agenda, the same vision, the same infinite capacity for violence, the same reliance on religion and reaction, the same need for hegemony and profitmaking. They represent the same new bleak world order for 21st century humanity. They would both turn this world into another Iraq if they could.

But only if.

This is where we - the third camp - come in. Only civilised humanity can defend its own interests and push back reaction. This is our historical task.

Join us.

Stop Stonings Now!

28 September 2006
UA 257/06 Death penalty/ stoning
Parisa (f) ]
Iran (f) ] full names known to Amnesty International
Khayrieh (f) ]
Shamameh Ghorbani (also known as Malek) (f)
Kobra Najjar (f, aged 44)
Soghra Mola'i (f)
Fatemeh (f)

The women named above are at risk of execution by stoning.

Parisa was arrested in April 2004, while working as a prostitute in the city of Shiraz in southern Iran. She confessed to the charge of adultery during the preliminary investigations, claiming that she had been forced into prostitution by her husband due to the family's poverty. Her trial took place in June 2004, during which Parisa retracted her confession. Nevertheless, on 21 June 2004, Branch 5 of Fars province Criminal Court sentenced her to death by stoning for adultery. The sentence was upheld by Branch 32 of the Supreme Court on 15 November 2005. Her case is currently being reviewed by the Supreme Court. Parisa is detained in Adelabad prison in Shiraz.

Iran, an Ahwazi Arab from the Bakhtiari clan, was reportedly talking to the son of a neighbor in the courtyard of her house, when her husband attacked her with a knife. She was badly beaten and left bleeding and unconscious on the floor.

While she was unconscious, it is alleged that the man killed her husband with his own knife. While police were interrogating her about the killing, Iran reportedly confessed to adultery with the son of her neighbor. However she later retracted her confession. A court in a city in Khuzestan sentenced her to five years' imprisonment for being an accomplice in the murder of her husband, and to execution by stoning for adultery. The verdict was upheld by the Supreme Court in April 2006. Her lawyer has appealed against the sentence. She is detained in Sepidar prison, in Ahvaz city.

Khayrieh, an Ahwazi Arab, was reportedly subjected to domestic violence by her husband. She allegedly began an affair with a relative of her husband, who then murdered him. She was sentenced to death by Branch 3 of Behbahan Court, in Khuzestan in southwestern Iran, for being an accomplice in the murder of her husband, and death by stoning for adultery. Khayrieh has denied any involvement in her husband's murder, but confessed to adultery. The sentence was upheld, and the case has reportedly been sent to the Head of the Judiciary for permission to be implemented. Talking about her fate, Khayrieh said ''I am ready to be hanged, but they should not stone me. They could strangle you and you would die, but it is very difficult to have stones hitting you in the head''.

Shamameh Ghorbani (also known as Malek), arrested in June 2005, was sentenced to execution by stoning for adultery by a court in Oromieh in June 2006. She is reportedly held in Oromieh prison. Her brothers and husband reportedly murdered a man that they found in her house, and she too was nearly killed after they stabbed her with a knife. Shamameh Ghorbani's case is reportedly being re-examined.

Kobra Najjar, who is detained in Tabriz prison in northwestern Iran, is at imminent risk of execution. She was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment for being an accomplice to the murder of her husband, and execution by stoning for adultery. She was scheduled to be executed after serving her prison sentence, which was finished two years ago. She has reportedly written to the Judicial Commission for Amnesty to ask for her sentence of execution by stoning to be commuted, and is awaiting a reply. Kobra Najjar was allegedly forced into prostitution by her husband, a heroin addict who was violent towards her. In 1995, after a severe beating by her husband, she told one of her regular customers that she wanted to kill her husband. The customer allegedly murdered her husband after Kobra Najjar took him to an arranged meeting place. He was sentenced to death, but he was pardoned by the victim's family, to whom he paid diyeh (blood money).

Soghra Mola'i was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment for being an accomplice to the murder in January 2004 of her husband Abdollah, and to execution by stoning for adultery.
During interrogation she said ''My husband usually tormented me. Nevertheless, I did not intend to kill him. On the night of the incident … after Alireza killed my husband, I ran away with him because I was scared to stay at home, thinking that my brothers-in-law would kill me.'' Alireza was sentenced to death for the murder of Soghra Mola'i's husband, and to 100 lashes for ''illicit relations''. The sentences are pending examination by the Supreme Court. It is believed that Soghra Mola'i is detained in Reja'i Shahr prison, Karaj, near Tehran.

In May 2005, Branch 71 of the Tehran Province Criminal Court sentenced Fatemeh (surname unknown) to retribution (qesas) for being an accomplice to murder, and execution by stoning for having an 'illicit relationship' with a man named Mahmoud. Her husband was sentenced to 16 years' imprisonment for being an accomplice to the murder of Mahmoud. The case is currently being examined in the Supreme Court. According to a May 2005 report in the newspaper Etemad, an altercation occurred between Mahmoud, and Fatemeh's husband. Fatemeh confessed to tying a rope around Mahmoud's throat, which resulted in his strangulation. She has claimed that she intended merely to tie his hands and feet after he was unconscious and hand him over to the police.


Amnesty International is aware of two other women under sentence of execution by stoning in Iran, Ashraf Kalhori (see UA 203/06, 27 July 2006; and updates), and Hajieh Esmailvand (see UA 336/04, 16 December 2004; and updates).

The Head of the Judiciary announced a moratorium on the use of stoning in December 2002, but reports indicate a man and a woman may have been stoned to death in May 2006.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible:
- calling for the sentences of execution by stoning of the seven women named above (naming them) to be commuted immediately;
- stating your unconditional opposition to the death penalty, as the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and violation of the right to life;
- reminding the Iranian authorities that the UN Human Rights Committee (in the case of Toonen v Australia) has made clear that treating adultery and fornication as criminal offences does not comply with international human rights standards.
Therefore the sentence of execution by stoning for adultery breaches Iran's commitment under article 6(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that death sentences will be imposed ''only for the most serious crimes'';
- calling for the abolition of execution by stoning in Iran as a positive step towards implementing international law and standards for the protection of human rights.

Leader of the Islamic Republic:
Ali Khamenei, The Office of the Supreme Leader Shoahada Street, Qom, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: OR
Head of the Judiciary:
Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi Ministry of Justice, Park-e Shahr, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: Please send emails via the feedback form on the Persian site of the website:

Monday, October 16, 2006

Help Nazanin!


On January 3, 2006, 18-year-old Nazanin Mahabad Fatehi was sentenced to death for murder by court in Iran after she stabbed one of three men who attempted to rape her and her 16-year-old niece in a park in Karaj (a suburb of Tehran) in March 2005. She was seventeen at the time. Iran is signatory to international treaties which forbid them to execute any one under the age of 18; however they continue to do so.

The injustice of this case propelled Nazanin Afshin-Jam to take immediate action and start a petition to help save the life of her namesake. The petition now has over 200 000 signatures from around the world.

Since initiating the Save Nazanin Campaign with Mina Ahadi- the Head of the International Committee Against Execution and Stoning- and through the help of other human rights groups and individuals, they have been able to engage the UN, Canadian Parliament, the EU, Amnesty International and others to pressure the Iranian Officials to spare the life of this child.

On June 1st 2006, the Head of Judiciary Ayatollah Shahroudi announced a stay of execution and the call for a complete new retrial. Nazanin Fatehi’s retrial will take place at the end of August.
In this new trial the Islamic Republic Court will either: a) spare the life of Nazanin and release her from prison or b) announce a prison sentence of x number of years or c) re-condemn Nazanin for execution or d) ask Nazanin to negotiate "Dieh" (Blood Money) with the family of the alleged rapist and have her released subject to her paying that amount.
In the meantime the Nazanin Fatehi Trust fund has been set up to help cover her legal fees and campaign costs. See Donations page.

The fate of Nazanin Fatehi is still up in the air, please continue to spread the word about her case and the plight of other women in similar circumstances such as Delareh Darabi, Kobra Rahmanpour, Ashraf Kalhori, Fatemeh Haghighat-Pajouh and Malak Ghorbani and continue to pressure the Iranian Government to free these women.

From her prison cell, Nazanin Fatehi wanted to thank everyone that has been working so tirelessly on her behalf and everyone who has signed the petition.

Thank you,
Team at

Saturday, October 07, 2006

To the second annual secularist of the year award ceremony

To the second annual secularist of the year award ceremony

Dear friends

I am sorry that I am unable to be with you today. I planned to attend but had to go abroad to a last minute meeting due to the pressing circumstances in Iran.

I wish, however, to use this opportunity, to send my warmest greetings to the NSS organizers, Michael Irwin and participants of the second annual secularist of the year award ceremony. I also want to congratulate this year’s winner and hope this award will bring him or her as much honour and opportunity as it has brought me.

Clearly, this ceremony is an important moment in highlighting the crucial battle between the forces of religious reaction and that of civil society. A secular world must become the order of the day if we are to stop religion’s regressive role in our world and defend a world worthy of 21st century humanity.

In solidarity,
Maryam Namazie

Congratulations to the geneticist and anti-creationist Professor Steve Jones who won the award this year. To read more about him, click here.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Chavez's Embrace of Iran Leader Insults Women

Run Date: 09/27/06
By Jennifer Fasulo
WeNews commentator

Venezuela's Chavez has publicly embraced Iran's reactionary President Ahmadinejad. Jennifer Fasulo says this shows how women's lives are maneuvered on the playing board of nationalist realpolitik.

Editor's Note: The following is a commentary. The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily the views of Women's eNews.

(WOMENSENEWS)--Hugo Chavez, one of the key figures in the left populist movements spreading throughout Latin America, has publicly lauded and embraced Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Moments like this show just how little women's lives matter in the world of nationalist politics.

Of course Venezuela and Iran have strategic political and economic interests in each other based on their roles as oil producers.

And one expects Chavez to condemn all U.S. military threats against Iran.

But there is no excuse for declaring solidarity with a theocratic regime that treats women like sub-humans. By embracing Ahmadinejad, Chavez is adding steam to the growing and dangerous alliance between left-wing and right-wing anti-imperialism.

In this equation, the only thing that matters is opposition to U.S. military power. Women's rights, worker's rights, student's rights--the things that are supposed to matter to socialists, progressives and people of conscience--be damned.

Chavez appears not to have noticed that the current government of Iran has turned Iran into a country where gender apartheid and hatred of women are enshrined in law.

Regime of Violent Repression
This is a country where women are stoned to death for the "crime" of adultery, buried up to their necks and pelted in the face and head with stones until they die, where women have no right to divorce or child custody, are legally forced to veil under threat of physical beating or imprisonment, can't travel without the permission of a husband or father, where their testimony in a court of law is considered half that of a man, and where political dissent of any kind, for women and men, is punishable by imprisonment, often torture and death.

This is the government that Chavez compares to his own as a "heroic nation," one which he even deems "revolutionary."

Chavez's lack of concern for women's rights in Iran is all too common among male leftists. Among too many of them, the status of women is often simply not on the radar screen. If it does get mentioned, it's often dismissed as an issue of "culture."

The insidious use of the word "culture" implies that women are brutally subjected not through force and violence, but because they or their "culture" wants it that way, and therefore it's OK.

Aside from insulting the human spirit, which never passively accepts subjugation, this attitude ignores the actual conditions and historical facts in Iran.

People Are in Revolt
A cursory investigation of Iranian society will show that the Iranian people are in utter revolt against their despotic rulers, with women leading the way.

For 27 years women have resisted and defied the regime's persecution of them, often at great risk to their lives. Along with an inspiring women's movement, there are strong, secular workers and student movements, all of them opposing not only the Islamic Republic, but also U.S. threats of military attacks and sanctions on Iran.

How can Chavez--a declared socialist and defender of the downtrodden--align himself with the leader of such a reactionary regime, rather than the inspiring socialist and feminist movements which are fighting against it?

It is a terrible political choice that he need not make.

Chavez can and should renounce his solidarity with Ahmadinejad and place it with the people of Iran where it belongs.

He should be standing, not by the side of the executioner, but by the side of the unjustly accused and condemned, like 17-year-old Nazanine Fatehi who awaits execution for the crime of defending herself and her niece from a gang of rapists.

Or Kobra Rahmanpour, who also awaits execution and writes in a public letter, "I have suffered enough . . . Please help me! I don't want to die. But right now I am more like a lifeless body who has forgot happiness and laughter in the scare from the execution rope . . . My only hope lies in people and my fellow humans."

How must Kobra and Nazanine feel to see Chavez throw his arms around their executioner?

Chavez's stance needs to be condemned by all progressive forces within the international community.

One group that has already issued such a condemnation is the Worker Communist Party of Iran. In a Sept. 14 statement they write, "We see the attempts by right-wing pro-America forces to overthrow Chavez and we value every bit of positive reform by the Chavez government in the interest of deprived and hungry people, but defending the murderous and terrorist leaders of the Islamic Republic, rolling out the carpet for them under the guise of anti-imperialism is nothing but throwing dust in the eyes of the people and covering up the brutal reality of the Islamic regime."

The WPI--a leading leftist group in Iran that emphasizes human freedom and prioritizes women's rights--goes on to challenge the very notion that the Islamic Republic is an anti-imperialist force.

"We must make it clear to Chavez and Castro that the Islamic current, without the support of the U.S. government and Western powers, could not have come to power; and without their help could not have stayed in power." (This refers to various deals made between the United States and Iran, such as the Reagan administration's secret arms deals with Iran known as "Contra-gate.")

Some Credit Due
Chavez deserves credit for the things he's done to improve the lives of poor people and curb the abuses of capitalism in Venezuela.

He has pushed economic initiatives for women and has recognized the financial contribution of women's unpaid labor in the home. Recently, he initiated and signed a bill that would compensate women for their unpaid housework, something that socialist feminists have been fighting for several decades.

None of this, however, erases the fact that he has been criticized for his authoritarian leadership, including by the Venezuelan women who are pushing him to make good on his promises.

Critics point out his strong anti-abortion stance. He even attempted to put an anti-abortion amendment in the constitution, but strong resistance forced him to back off. And among feminists, the issue of paying women for housework is not clear-cut. While some argue that it will help raise women out of poverty, others believe that it will further institutionalize women's place in domestic servitude.

All of these issues deserve to be reconsidered in light of Chavez's alliance with an anti-feminist fundamentalist like Ahmadinejad.

After the recall election in which Chavez triumphed over efforts by the opposition to unseat him, he declared, "God has spoken."

But to some of us, that is more like the sound of demagoguery. The true ideals of justice, equality and human liberation are better represented by the brave activism of those in Iran who are fighting to save women's lives and chart a third course between U.S. domination and right-wing opposition to it.

Now, more than ever, we must stand up and defend them.

Jennifer Fasulo co-founded a solidarity group in support of women's liberation movements in the Middle East. She is also an assistant producer for Joy of Resistance, Multicultural Feminist Radio on WBAI 99.5 FM in NYC.

Maryam Namazie