FP: Dr. Hughes, what do you make of this case and Dr. Kobrin’s theories?
Hughes: Shocking though Atefeh’s execution may be, it is consistent with the ideology and practice of the religious dictatorship ruling Iran.
Iran, a land of Persian culture and Shi’a Islam, has been controlled by religious leaders since the revolution that ousted the Shah in 1979. Iran is a unique theocracy crafted from Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s interpretation of the Koran.
Islamic fundamentalism is not just a conservative form of Islam, the way we in the United States have conservative (and moderate and liberal) forms of Christianity. Islamic fundamentalism is fascistic, totalitarian, and expansionist in its dedication to export its revolution to the entire Muslim world and eventually to destroy the western world and in particular “the Great Satan” - the United States.
Islamic fascism is hostile to modernity, democracy, and freedom and rights for women. Misogyny – hatred of women – is at its core, just as hatred of the Jews was at the core of Nazism. The Nazis gauged their success on whether they had eliminated the Jewish population in each town; Islamic fascists gauge their success by how deeply they suppress women.
The ideology of Islamic fundamentalism contends that women and men are very different beings. Women are said to be intellectually inferior and emotionally unstable, and consequently have to be excluded from decision making positions in society. Women are said to be the embodiment of sexual temptation and sin. That is why their bodies and hair must be covered at all times in public so as not to distract or tempt men. Rules and punishments in society are based on controlling women, through segregation, restrictions on travel, and most importantly, forcing them to conform to the restrictive dress code.
The Rajabi case is quite emblematic of Iranian Islamic fundamentalism. Her supposed crime was sexual in nature; the girl was more severely punished than the man involved; the judge and the judicial system were arbitrary and corrupt; the girl was executed for resisting male authority, and the execution was carried out in public to terrify the population.
Rajabi was accused of “acts incompatible with chastity.” A man was charged as well. He received 100 lashes and afterwards released (100 lashes are nothing to take too lightly, but it certainly is less than being hanged.) A woman told Radio Farda, a U.S. funded Farsi radio station, that the judge accused the girl of prostitution. Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi says that the judge Haji Rezaii wanted Rajabi for a temporary marriage, but was rejected. She’s correct that temporary marriage can be an official form of prostitution or keeping a mistress. Whatever the exact nature of her activity, the most severe punishment of women in Iran is for perceived sexual misconduct – and women are always held responsible for not keeping themselves chaste. She could have been stoned to death.
Rajabi talked back to the judge, reportedly insulted him and said that the real perpetrators of moral corruption should be punished not the victims. That sounds like an accusation to me and possibly a threat. Does the judge know who these real perpetrators are that she referred to? We know that judges and other officials have been caught running prostitution rings. In her outrage at the unfairness of the charges against her, one account said she “undressed in court,” although according to Alasdair Palmer in The Sunday Telegraph (August 29, 2004), she only took off her headscarf.
To us in the West, that seems like such a small act of defiance, but to the Islamic fascists, it is a threat to their entire ideology and system of social control. A woman or girl pulling off a headscarf is a challenge to the whole theocratic terrorist state. If a girl is allowed to get away with it, the whole system will start to crumble.
Some news stories have said that Rajabi was mentally ill. She doesn’t sound mentally ill to me. She sounds furious and tragically sane and intelligent enough to see through the corruption and injustice of the insane mullahs’ system. She was foolishly courageous enough to confront a perpetrator of the misogynous system.
Haji Rezaii, the sadistic judge, chose to personally take part in snuffing out her life. He personally put the noose around Rajabi’s neck and gave the signal for the crane to hoist her body into the air.
Afterwards, Rezaii said that his real reason for executing her was her “sharp tongue.” In truth, her real crime was speaking truth to power.
In Iran, people are hanged in public to terrorize the rest of the population. It is a message to everyone that this can happen to you too. The mullahs’ regime is extremely corrupt. We know that many pro-democracy activists are hanged in public. The officials claim they committed a serious crime, but everyone in the town knows the real reason they have been executed is because the person stood up to the regime. I’m sure all the teenage girls in Neka got a lesson.
Rajabi was buried after she has hanged, but that night someone stole her body from the grave. Her family has filed a complaint, but no one knows who did it. Perhaps the sadists in the court and prison system needed to disappear the body to conceal evidence of abuse that could be found if her body was disinterred and examined. Just last year the mullahs refused to release the body of murdered Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi to her son, and insisted it be buried under their control in Iran. The world knows now that they did this to prevent a full autopsy that would reveal the extent to which they tortured Kazemi before she died. After the revolution in 1979, the prison guards were known to rape women and girls before they executed them. They rationalized these atrocities with their fascist ideology: virgins go to heaven; if they raped them before they died, they would go to hell instead. I wonder what they did to Rajabi in the three months between her trial and her execution.
I believe Nancy Kobrin’s explanation provides some insights into the misogynous mullahs, but doesn’t explain everything. I believe she’s correct in saying that the judge is exhibiting paranoid behavior. As I said above, I suspect he has something to hide; otherwise, he wouldn’t have made it such a personal vendetta to murder Rajabi. I also agree that the misogynous mullahs project their feelings and guilt as perpetrators onto the victim. They make women and girls responsible for all their own feelings and behaviors, particularly sexual ones.
Possibly a good psychoanalysis would explain why Khomeini designed a theocratic dictatorship based on the hatred and suppression of women. Certainly, Islamic fundamentalism is a pathological ideology and system. But I don’t think you can explain the whole Islamic fascist regime with one type of analysis. We need other sciences and analyses, such as political science, sociology, theology, and feminism to fully understand the mullahs’ misogynous system.
FP: Ms. Zan-Bonazzi feel free to respond to our two guests, but I would also like to raise what just happened in Chechnya. We know now that the terrorists blew up their own female accomplices. This outrage is all connected to our theme isn't it?
Zand-Bonazzi: I really cannot speak about the Chechens. I know nothing about that part of the story. All I am able to comment on is what happens in Iran in Sharia interpretations of the Iranian Mullahs. You must know that each country has its own customs. Iran is a country with a strong sense of identity; our Persian"ness" is very very important to us and that is one of the main reasons why we´ve never lost our soul, per se to Islam, like Pakistanis for example who have given up thousands of years of their identity and culture in order to wrap themselves in Islam.
We received more information about Atefeh Rajabi last week that was extremely sad. It turns out that due to her mental imbalance (it has been suggest that she may have been bi-polar) and her family´s improvised conditions, two army guys stationed in Neka paid her family to have sex with her. Then it turned out that after the other man (with whom she was caught - which has also been suggested was framing her at the behest of Rezai) had relations with her, Hadji Rezai blackmailed the two army guys to go around the streets of Neka to threaten people into signing a document bearing false witness claiming they knew her as nothing more than a common local whore. This of course was done in order to satisfy the Tehran courts; after all they need to provide some kind of proof to the "supreme court," however fake it is...as long as it looks official, the so-called judiciary doesn´t really care OR check for that matter.
The other thing that I read last week in the latest news coming out of Iran that is infuriating (the Iran I grew up in was not like this) is that the Mullahs have now taken to designing specific underwear for women, they are clamping down on the color of the overcoats and scarves women are wearing and they do check, if they feel like it, to see whether you´re properly dressed. Also they are designing men´s robes for comfortable stone throwing during stoning of women! This is not a new phenomenon though because frankly this has been happening since the beginning of the revolution and Dr. Hughes is absolutely correct in saying that it IS in fact due to Khomeini´s psychotic rulings that all this has come about.
I remember back in ´79 when Khomeini first arrived, I was in Iran demonstrating against these Mullahs and in their first waves of executions Dr. Farrokhroo Parsa, a magnificent Lady, in her late ´60´s who in the ´60´s and part of the ´70´s, was the minister of Education was without a trial, dragged out of her house and brutally executed. Charges? Among other trumped up lies, they said that she degraded school girls by permitting them to wear shorts in Phys Ed!!!!!!! Till this day, that execution has every thinking Iranian boiling mad...and then a wave of executions of women teachers who were progressive and educated people occurred where some of our best educators were stoned to death.
Right now we have thousands of women sitting in prisons in Iran. Women and children have put up with THE worst of this regime. The story of Masoomeh S. is one of the saddest though. She´s been in prison now for 22 years and when she went in she was 62! She was arrested in 1982 because she had lost 2 sons in the Iran-Iraq war, early on and when they came to drag her third and last son away to war, she got mad and went to Tehran (from her village) to plead with someone in the ministry of war. They told her off and sent her on her way but refusing to leave, she sat for days on end in front of the building. Finally some high up pencil pusher got mad enough to have her arrested and they hauled her off, never to be freed. We have been screaming about her case for years...to no avail.
I was once told confidentially by someone close to the Khomeini family, who is actually sane, that the one person who was put through pure hell and was essentially a prisoner was Khomeini´s own wife, Batool. I also understand that Khomeini´s granddaughter who is married to Khatami´s brother, (another promoter of the flimflam Reformists) is terribly angry about the state of women but she is muzzled up by her overbearing husband...this came out in an article that Elaine Schiolino (not that her "tall tales" or the paper it´s published in, are worth citing) wrote a while back, where she had interviewed Khomeini´s granddaughter and had quoted her stating her concerns and frustrations and the day after the piece came out in the NY Times, Mohammad Reza Khatami, I´m told, had shot off a very confrontational and accusatory letter to Schiolino stating that she had in fact fabricated the story and that it must be retracted immediately! This was probably the only article Schiolino didn´t exaggerate and romanticize where Iran and the revolution are concerned and strangely this was the one piece she was wrote where she was called a liar by the very people SHE helped promote!
The worst offender of this situation, as far as (I can easily, without exaggeration) 90% of Iranians inside and outside Iran are concerned is Shirin Ebadi (people in Iran loathe her with a passion for turning out to be the consiglieri to these Moslem Mafiosi) who undeniably got her education during the time of the Shah and became THE first female judge in Iran as well...then these Mullahs show up and force her to step down because according to the Sharia, no woman is permitted to judge a man. This woman then happily agrees to live and abide by the rules of a bunch of old men (with all kinds of wild sexual proclivities & drug habits of their own) who think that life in 2004 is the very same as it was 1500 years ago! If nothing else, Ms. Ebadi´s betrayal of her womanhood is hugely distressing. The fact that the West accepts her as window-dressing for a regime that otherwise snuffs out women is even more disgusting and reprehensible.
FP: Ms. Zand-Bonazzi, thank you. It is excruciating to hear these realities and to contemplate the suffering of the Iranian people under this barbaric and insane regime. Sexual repression and the demonization of the female -- and of her sexuality -- clearly always lead to all kinds of pathologies and you have illustrated for us, in part of your answer, the demented perversion that has grown on the part of the morality police. Sorry to center in on this but: laws about new women’s underwear?? And the right of the religious police to check to make sure? I don’t mean to degrade this dialogue down to this level, but I am actually quite curious: what kind of specific women’s underwear are, exactly, “moral”? What are the clerics now actually designing and demanding women to wear? This is simply beyond my comprehension. Do the underwear, like, have images of the Ayatollah Khomeini on them or what?
Zand-Bonazzi: That´s a funny image...! Frankly I haven’t a clue as to how these underwear will look; I’m sure it’ll be something of a chastity belt and believe me, they do check. As of a few months ago, if the revolutionary guards in the streets saw, let’s say a car with a couple of girls or women in it, they’d pull them over, get them out of the car to check to make sure they’re wearing socks even! It’s a random thing. If they feel like it or they don’t like the way you look (it’s based on a whim on how much they think they can upset you and get your goad) they’ll haul you off for their women guards to strip you down and make sure you’re dressed according to the law. And now any form of make-up is also being forbidden...colorful headscarves are banned And if the scarf you’re wearing is sitting too far back on your head, you can be charged with BAD HEJABI (strangely BAD means bad in Farsi too...so your first interpretation would be correct!) and dragged off to receive at least 35 lashes!
But this of course is nothing more than posturing and scaring women who are not poor. You see, because there’s such a huge rate of unemployment in Iran, poor women who have no education have had to turn to prostitution, which is now hugely rampant all over Iran...back in the old days prostitutes had their own part of town and prostitution was sort of regulated. Anyhow, a year or so ago, I heard a 26 year old woman who was calling [from Tehran] into one of the radio shows of our wonderful Los Angeles based radio KRSI; she was calling to tell the story of her junky husband whom she had paid to put through dozens of recovery programs and had finally overdosed, leaving her with two kids that she had to support. All she could do to support herself and her family was prostitution. She then described an incident of having one day been picked up off the street in a stretch limo by a Mullah who had taken her to his mansion and had had his way with her for almost 24 hours, the whole time getting stoned out of his mind on Opium (90% of the Mullahs are major drug addicts - Khameini’s Opium habit is a very well known fact). When time came for her to leave he’d paid her half of what they’d originally negotiated; when she complained, he pulled a 9 millimeter out of his abaaya and put it in her mouth and told her that if she complained he’d personally bury her in his garden. These stories are everywhere in Iran...we hear them all the time. For us, it’s become normal...sadly.
I can go on and on to tell you about how they auction off our little kids in sex slave auctions in the gulf countries, how they have turned a huge part of the population into hardcore drug addicts (in Iran, it’s mostly Opium and Heroin)...but that would be going off the subject.
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