Iran: Women, before and after the Islamist Takeover

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Respect for women’s rights in Iran dates back to the ancient Persian Empire where it was common practice for women to serve as monarchs, army commanders, or naval officers. However, when the great empire was occupied by zealous followers of Islam in the seventh century A.D., Iranian women lost many of their privileges and were relegated to a status inferior to men. Some were even condemned to live as slaves. In recent times, the practical struggle of Iranian women to regain their status began with playing a great role in the Iranian Constitutional Revolution of 1905. Further, that struggle continued in the efforts of the citizenry during the former monarchical government in Iran.

Iran before the Islamic Revolution (1979)

Reza Shah the Great, founder of the Pahlavi dynasty in Iran, courageously initiated the greatest challenge of his era (1925 – 1941): the abolishment of the hijab (veil) for Iranian women on Jan. 6, 1935. The policy of “Kashf-e-Hijab” banned a very basic Islamic law, the covering of the whole woman’s body except the eyes and hands. However, avoiding hypocrisy, he commenced this task with his own family– namely his own wife and daughters.

His policy of forced un-veiling was a catalyst in the advancement of Iranian society and in ending women’s slavery. By doing that, Reza Shah the Great aroused a deep animosity in fundamentalist clergies who had practically ruled the country during the previous Qajar Dynasty for 136 miserable years. He rightfully considered the hijab the emblem of an obsolete tradition which aimed to hinder Iranian women from equal life opportunities. His wholehearted efforts encouraged women to pursue higher education and to work outside the home.

His successor, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, continued to respond positively to the aspirations of Iranian women for a full emancipation in 1962. The late Shah of Iran implemented one of his greater policies, “The White Revolution,” which among other achievements, ratified very impressive women’s rights measures, ahead of all other Middle Eastern nations and even sooner than a few European countries.

The White Revolution introduced the massive “Family Protection Law” that was absolutely designed in favor of Iranian women: the right to be elected in various government ranks and posts, the right to divorce, the restriction of polygamy, and the increase in marriage age for girls from 15 to 18. In short, Iranian women up to the Islamic Revolution enjoyed a high degree of equality with men. There were female ministers, ambassadors, mayors, college professors, judges, parliamentarians and even military officers.

In the last parliamentary elections during the monarchical government in 1978, a year before the Islamic Revolution, millions of Iranian women voted. Out of 99 female candidates, 19 were elected to the parliament (Majlis) and two to the Senate. Women were also appointed to the government in new posts as Minister of State for Women’s Affairs and Minister of State for Education. Women were playing an increasingly active role in public life through obtaining higher education, which enabled women to acquire better jobs. They were entering the job market in a much wider range of fields and at higher levels of skill and competence.

Most of the present clergies’ animosity toward the Pahlavi monarchs resulted from these policies, which emancipated Iranian women who had been deprived of basic human rights for almost 14 centuries since the Muslim conquest. The Islamic theocracy perceived such actions as an affront against the sanctities of Islam.

Iran after the Islamic Revolution

With the Islamic Revolution of 1979 in Iran, clergies in Tehran immediately and severely curtailed the laws established under the White Revolution, including the Family Protection Law in favor of women, which was repealed. Today in Iran under Islamic law, gender equality is practically non-existent. Women are required to obey the Islamic law of wearing the hijab, otherwise they are subject to the severe punishment of lashing and days in prison. Islamic law specifies that women are banned from wearing perfume or shaking hands with males. Women who wear lipstick are detained and their lips are cut with blades or broken glass. Many women’s faces have been permanently scarred by acid, thrown in their faces by Islamic fascist secret police. Women have been barred from judging positions. Islamic laws consider legal testimony by women to be half as valuable as legal testimony by men.

There is absolute segregation of the sexes in any place out of the home, including schools. Education in grade school for girls overly emphasizes moral and religious teaching. In any gathering at colleges and universities, female students must be seated in the back of lecture halls, or else curtains may often divide lecture rooms. A female student must pose her question to the instructor in writing so as not to be heard by male students or male instructors, who may be “excited” by the voice of the female students.

The dark-age institutions of polygamy and temporary marriage have also been reinstated. Islamic law allows a man to have four “permanent” and as many “temporary” wives as he desires, and of course without his first wife’s permission. The legal age of marriage for girls has been dropped to 9. Women have forfeited the right to unconditional divorce, while a man can divorce his wife whenever he wishes to do so.  The custody of children, regardless of their age, is always with the father.

These grave injustices of the Islamic clergies in Iran toward women began a few days after they seized control of the country and brought the first deaths of brave Iranian women, such as Dr. Farokhroo Parsa, Minister of the State of Education, who was accused of corruption for allowing Iranian educators to teach and promote the awareness of their natural rights to millions of young Iranian girls in schools. She was put in a sack and brutally beaten and stoned to death by the Islamic fundamentalists who carried out the so-called Islamic Revolution. Many thousands of female journalists, administrators, college professors, civil servants, etc., were discharged, arrested or executed.

Despite all the hostilities expressed by the Islamic governing system, Iranian women have not compromised their aspirations; they teach their daughters that no one can force them to live under the hijab, and they do not yield to the false role of a second-class citizen who is inferior to men. The resilience and constant rebellion of Iranian women under 38 years of the cruelest Islamic dictatorship is truly due to their knowledge of and admiration for the accomplishments of their predecessors. This psyche originated in the exalted status of women of ancient Persia and was rejuvenated in the Pahlavi era by Reza Shah the Great when the law of un-veiling was nationally instituted (the 6th day of January, 1935). Not surprisingly, the clerical regime has a hard time appeasing Iranian women by comparing their condition to that of women living in Saudi Arabia. The regime often prides itself on being more progressive than the latter government, but Iranian women remember their past rights and accomplishments during the Pahlavi monarchs’ system of governing.

 

Mansour Kashfi, Ph.D., is President of Kashex International Petroleum Consulting and is a college professor in Dallas, Texas. He has over 50 years experience in petroleum exploration, primarily about Iran. He also has authored more than 100 articles and books about petroleum geology, the oil and gas industry, and market behavior.

THE END OF PALESTINE

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam

Palestine is many things. A Roman name and a Cold War lie. Mostly it’s a justification for killing Jews.

Palestine was an old Saudi-Soviet scam which invented a fake nationality for the Arab clans who had invaded and colonized Israel. This big lie transformed the leftist and Islamist terrorists run by them into the liberators of an imaginary nation. Suddenly the efforts of the Muslim bloc and the Soviet bloc to destroy the Jewish State became an undertaking of sympathetically murderous underdogs.

But the Palestine lie is past its sell by date.

What we think of as “Palestinian” terrorism was a low-level conflict pursued by the Arab Socialist states in between their invasions of Israel. After several lost wars, the terrorism was all that remained. Egypt, Syria and the USSR threw in the towel on actually destroying Israel with tanks and jets, but funding terrorism was cheap and low-risk. And the rewards were disproportionate to the cost.

For less than the price of a single jet fighter, Islamic terrorists could strike deep inside Israel while isolating the Jewish State internationally with demands for “negotiations” and “statehood.”

After the Cold War ended, Russia was low on cash and the PLO’s Muslim sugar daddies were tired of paying for Arafat’s wife’s shoe collection and his keffiyah dry cleaning bills.

The terror group was on its last legs. “Palestine” was a dying delusion that didn’t have much of a future.

That’s when Bill Clinton and the flailing left-wing Israeli Labor Party which, unlike its British counterpart, had failed to adapt to the new economic boom, decided to rescue Arafat and create ”Palestine”.

The resulting terrorist disaster killed thousands, scarred two generations of Israelis, isolated the country and allowed Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and other major cities to come under fire for the first time since the major wars. No matter how often Israeli concessions were met with Islamic terrorism, nothing seemed able to shake loose the two-state solution monkey on Israel’s back. Destroying Israel, instantaneously or incrementally, had always been a small price to pay for maintaining the international order.

The same economic forces that were transforming the world after the Cold War had salvaged “Palestine”. Arafat had lost his sponsors in Moscow, but his new sugar daddy’s name was “Globalism”.

The Cold War had been the focus of international affairs. What replaced it was the conviction that a new world tied together by international commerce, the internet and international law would be born.

The demands of a clan in Hebron used to be able to hijack the attention of the world because the scope of the clash between Capitalism and Communism could globalize any local conflict. Globalization was just as insistent on taking local conflicts and making them the world’s business through its insistence that every place was connected. The terrorist blowing up an Israeli pizzeria affected stock prices in New York, the expansion prospects of a company in China and the risk of another terrorist attack in Paris. And interconnectedness, from airplane hijacking to plugging into the international’s left alliance of global protest movements, had become the  best weapon of Islamic terrorists.

But now globalization is dying. And its death may just take “Palestine” with it.

A new generation of leaders is rising who are actively hostile to globalization. Trump and Brexit were the most vocal rebukes to transnationalism. But polls suggest that they will not be the only ones. The US and the UK, once the vanguards of the international order, now have governments that are competitively seeking national advantages rather than relying on the ordered rules of the transnational safety net.

These governments will not just toss aside their commitment to a Palestinian state. Not when the Saudis, Qataris and countless other rich and powerful Muslim countries bring it up at every session.

But they will be less committed to it.

45% of Americans support the creation of a PLO state. 42% are opposed. That’s a near split. These historical numbers have to be viewed within the context of the larger changes sweeping the country.

The transnationalists actively believed that it was their job to solve the problems of other countries. Nationalists are concerned with how the problems of other countries directly impinge on them without resorting to the mystical interconnectedness of everything, from climate change to global justice, that is at the core of the transnational worldview.

More intense competition by Western nations may make it easier for Islamic agendas to gain influence through the old game of divide and conquer. Nations facing terrorism will still find that the economic influence of Islamic oil power will rally the Western trading partners of Islam against them.

But without the transnational order, such efforts will often amount to little more than lip service.

Nationalist governments will find Israel’s struggle against the Islamic invaders inconvenient because it threatens their business interests, but they will also be less willing to rubber stamp the terror agenda the way that transnationalist governments were willing to do. The elimination of the transnational safety net will also cause nationalist governments to look harder at consequences and results.

Endlessly pouring fortunes into a Palestinian state that will never exist just to keep Muslim oil tyrants happy is not unimaginable behavior even for a nationalist government. Japan has been doing just that.

But it will be a less popular approach for countries that don’t suffer from Japan’s energy insecurity.

Transnationalists are ideologically incapable of viewing a problem as unsolvable. Their faith in human progress through international law made it impossible for them to give up on the two-state solution.

Nationalist governments have a colder and harder view of human nature. They will not endlessly pour efforts and resources into a diplomatic black hole. They will eventually take “No” for an answer.

This won’t mean instantaneous smooth sailing for Israel. It will however mean that the exit is there.

For two decades, pledging allegiance to the two-state solution and its intent to create a deadly Islamic terror state inside Israel has been the price demanded of the Jewish State for its participation in the international community. That price will not immediately vanish. But it will become easier to negotiate.

The real change will be on the “Palestinian” side where a terrorist kleptoracy feeds off human misery in its mansions downwind of Ramallah. That terror state, conceived insincerely by the enemies of the West during the Cold War and sincerely brought into being by Western transnationalists after the Cold War ended, is a creature of that transnational order.

The “Palestinian Authority”, a shell company of the PLO which is a shell company of the Fatah terrorists, has no economy worth speaking of. It has foreign aid. Its diplomatic achievements are achieved for it by the transnational network of foreign diplomats, the UN, the media and assorted international NGOs. During the last round of “negotiations”, Secretary of State John Kerry even attempted to do the negotiating on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in the talks with Israel.

Take away the transnational order and the Palestinian Authority will need a new sugar daddy. The Saudis are better at promising money than actually delivering it. Russia may decide to take on the job. But it isn’t about to put in the money and resources that the PA has grown used to receiving from us.

Without significant American support, the Palestinian Authority will perish. And the farce will end.

It won’t happen overnight. But Israel now has the ability to make it happen if it is willing to take the risk of transforming a corrosive status quo into a conflict that will be more explosive in the short term, but more manageable in the long term.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, in stark contrast to rivals on the left like Peres and on the right like Sharon, is not a gambler. The peace process was a big gamble. As was the withdrawal from Lebanon and the expulsion from Gaza. These gambles failed and left behind scars and enduring crises.

Unlike the prime ministers before and after him, Netanyahu has made no big moves. Instead he serves as a sensible steward of a rising economy and a growing nation. He has stayed in office for so long because Israelis know that he won’t do anything crazy. That sensible stewardship, which infuriated Obama who accused him of refusing to take risks, has made him one of the longest serving leaders in Israeli history.

Netanyahu is also a former commando who participated in the rescue of a hijacked airplane. He doesn’t believe in taking foolish risks until he has his shot all lined up. But the time is coming when not taking a risk will be a bigger risk than taking a risk. Eventually he will have to roll the dice.

The new nationalist wave may not hold. The transnational order may return. Or the new wave may prove darker and more unpredictable. It’s even possible that something else may take its place.

The status quo, a weak Islamist-Socialist terror state in Ramallah supported by the United States, a rising Muslim Brotherhood terror state in Gaza backed by Qatar and Turkey, and an Israel using technological brilliance to manage the threat from both, is already unstable. It may collapse in a matter of years.

The PLO has inflicted a great deal of diplomatic damage on Israel and Hamas has terrorized its major cities. Together they form an existential threat that Israel has allowed to grow under the guise of managing it. The next few years may leave Israel with a deadlier and less predictable struggle.

“Palestine” is dying. Israel didn’t kill it. The fall of the transnational order did. The question is what will take its place. As the nationalist wave sweeps the West, Israel has the opportunity to reclaim its nation.

A Justified Intolerance of Islam

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Progressives and liberals do not tolerate beliefs or actions they consider unjust, yet they demand conservatives do so.  Nearly every criticism of Islam is met with a chorus of condemnation from Democrats (and distress from some Republican “moderates”).  This is not only wrong, but highly irresponsible.

Opposition to Islam is no different than opposition to communism, or fascism, or any other belief system that seeks to control human conduct.  Every American (indeed, every human being on Earth) has basic human rights — the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and property — and every belief system with principles that violate these rights is unjust.  In short, anti-communism, anti-fascism, and anti-Islam are the logical, fact-based positions for every rational person seeking justice, whether in America or anywhere else in the world.

Nevertheless, Progressives and liberals personally attack the critics of Islam, vilify them, and falsely accuse them of “Islamophobia.”  Clearly, this accusation is nonsense.  Opposition to the beliefs held by an individual or group is not a phobia, nor is opposition to the actions of an individual or group, including the customs followed by people.

Progressives and liberals, though, insist that opposition to Islam is based on fear, or hate, or both.  Again, this is nonsense.  Opposition to Islam is based on knowledge, not fear or hate.

Ultimately, claiming that people who oppose Islam are “Islamophobic” is as ridiculous as claiming that people who oppose Marxism and Nazism are “Marxophobic” and “Nazophobic.”

Now, while many Progressives and liberals refuse to address the legitimate reasons why people oppose Islam, some take a different approach; basically, they acknowledge the dangers and injustices of Islam, but they also invoke the Protestant Reformation that occurred in the 16th century, and they argue that people in the West must wait — however long it takes — for some version of an Islamic reformation.  But this argument is false on many points; two in particular.

First.  The Protestant Reformation was marked by a rejection of relatively newdevelopments in Christianity; it did not involve a reinterpretation of Christ’s teachings.

Second.  The central text of Islam, the Koran, claims to be the final word of god.  So, while some Muslims have been trying for years to reinterpret the Koran and “reform” Islam, true believers have never and will never accept such a change because it would represent a rejection of their god.

The Koran simply cannot have a single error and still honestly be called the word of god, and the Koran’s original meaning (which also was its continued meaning, for century after century) cannot be erroneous, if Islam is true.  To clarify, Islam has always held that an angel (Gabriel) revealed the word of god (the Koran) to a prophet (Muhammad).  And indisputably, god would not have allowed either the angel or the prophet to make a mistake and then — in the name of god — spread a false message to the people of the world.

Notably, Christianity does not have this burden.  For example, the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) as written have been dated many decades after Christ’s resurrection, and none of the authors were prophets.  Therefore, for the sake of argument, it logically is possible for a Christian to believe that some of the specifics in the various Christian texts (written by men and not finally agreed upon by the church until centuries later) could be erroneous, while still believing (like the earliest Christians) that Christ is the Lord.

As for Islam, the Koran instructs Muslims to violate the most basic of human rights.  For example, among other things, the Koran instructs men to hit women, and not in the context of self-defense only when necessary, but merely for disobedience.  (See Koran 4:34.)  Additionally, Sharia law — derived from the Koran (and from the words and conduct of Muhammad) — imposes severe injustices.

With regard to relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, the Koran instructs Muslims to engage in jihad, which imposes a duty to fight nonbelievers (see Koran 2:216; 4:76; 9:5), and to continue fighting until Islam is supreme (see Koran 8:39; 9:29; 61:9).  Consequently, after the Koran was revealed in the 7th century, Muslims spread Islam with violence — by waging “holy war” against nonbelievers — throughout the Middle East, northern Africa, and southern Europe.  (For holy war, see Sahih Muslim 19:4294 and Sahih al-Bukhari 53:392.)

Furthermore, the Koran promises Muslims eternal paradise for killing, and being killed, in the fight against nonbelievers for Islamic supremacy.  (See Koran 9:111.)  This promise is a key source of the Islamic terrorism plaguing the world today.  Essentially, these Muslims are waging holy war against the United States and other nations in the 21st century, and they are doing so following the Koran as it had originally been interpreted by Muslims in the 7th century.

There was a time when some on the political left understood the dangers of Islam.  For example, Samuel P. Huntington, a highly-respected political scientist and lifelong Democrat, served in the administration of President Jimmy Carter.  In his 1996 book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Huntington wrote, “Some Westerners, including President Bill Clinton, have argued that the West does not have problems with Islam but only with violent Islamic extremists.  Fourteen hundred years of history demonstrate otherwise.”  He added, “The underlying problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism.  It is Islam.”  And he concluded, “Wherever one looks along the perimeter of Islam [Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa], Muslims have problems living peaceably with their neighbors.”

In the years since Huntington provided the West with that warning, the situation has become even worse, especially in Europe.

Unfortunately, the current Progressive-liberal positions on Islam are not based on reality.  History has shown that when people wait too long before facing unpleasant facts, the consequences are deadly.  In the 1930s, as the Nazis in Germany were preparing for conquest, the leaders in the United Kingdom and France adopted policies of appeasement, based on their hope for peace and their belief that confrontation would provoke the fascists into committing further injustices.  One voice of reason, Winston Churchill, repeatedly spoke in favor of the United Kingdom taking strong measures to counter the dangers of fascism.  For several years, though, Churchill was denounced by the political establishment, the media, and the public.  However, time proved Churchill right and his detractors wrong.

A key lesson from history for dealing with an unjust belief system like communism, fascism, or Islam is the importance of describing the system with complete honesty and developing policies based on that honest description.  During the Cold War, roughly one-third of the world was communist, yet that did not stop Ronald Reagan from labeling communism a disease, and then as president, labeling the Soviet Union an evil empire.  Reagan was denounced by Progressives and liberals who claimed that such comments were endangering America by making communists more hostile than ever.

Today, when attacking the critics of Islam, Progressives and liberals are using (with slight variations) many of the arguments that were used against Churchill and Reagan.  Moreover, President Trump’s efforts to date have been met with protests and the use of slogans like “hope over fear” and “love trumps hate.”  But hope is not a policy.  Neither is love.  And to repeat, opposition to Islam is based on knowledge, not fear or hate.

The clock is running; the time to accurately describe Islam and develop policies accordingly is long overdue.

Paul Pauker is the author of Morality and Law in America. He also runs asite dedicated to advancing the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and property.

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