AHMADINEJAD'S NEW ENEMY: WOMEN
Posted: 4:36 am, September 6, 2008, by Amir Taheri, NY POST
IN one of his last sermons before his death, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini warned of "three threats" to his vision of Islam: the US, the Jews and women.
Two decades later, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad thinks he has the United States and the Jews in hand - and is moving on the third "enemy."
Women were the first to demonstrate against Khomeini's regime with a mass rally in Tehran on March 8, 1979 - less than a month after the mullahs had seized power. Over the next decade, the authorities imprisoned hundreds of thousands of women for varying lengths of time, and executed thousands.
But women continued to fight a regime that deemed them subhuman. Their resistance prevented the mullahs from abrogating pre-revolutionary laws limiting gender discrimination. Thus, women succeeded in keeping their right to vote and win public office.
They also retained a veto, granted by the shah, on their husbands' Islamic right to take up to four permanent wives and countless temporary concubines.
Last June, Ahmadinejad sought to remove that veto, launching a campaign with quotations from the Prophet and the 12 Imams of Shiite Islam to prove that men who took many wives would have a fast track to paradise.
To prevent the law's passage, women have been holding meetings nationwide, and launched a campaign to collect a million signatures in support of gender equality.
This week, their campaign seemed to have produced some results: The speaker of the Islamic Consultative Assembly, Iran's ersatz parliament, opted to delay formal debate on the measure.
"The text has not been withdrawn," a spokesman for Ahmadinejad said Monday. "It will be debated when we have a calmer atmosphere." To get that "calm," the regime has launched a crackdown against women's-rights groups. This week, four leading campaigners (Pari Ardalan, Nahid Keshavarz, Maryam Hussein Khah and Zhaleh Javaheri) got sentenced to six months in prison in what their lawyers call "kangaroo courts." A fifth campaigner, Zeinab Bayazidi got a four-year sentence.
And at least five women's-rights advocates have gone missing. One, Solmaz Igdar, was abducted on her way home in Tehran, her family says.