Nabz News Review - March 7, 2014
This week in human rights in Iran
On March 8, people across the world will be celebrating International Women’s Day and honoring the women who work every day to create a more free and just world. In Iran, March 7th will mark the 35th anniversary of the Supreme Leader’s order mandating women entering or working in government offices to wear a veil, eventually leading to the mandatory covering of women in all public places. Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, women in Iran have been working for the betterment of their society and moving the country forward, but they continue to struggle and face resistance and discrimination in their uphill battle. For example, the morality police continue to harass women in cities, despite President Rouhani’s barring them from arresting women for what religious hardliners consider "inappropriate dress." A recent insiders report from a women’s detention room reveals the current state of affairs and tensions that exist between the hardliners who are trying to maintain a moral code in Iran and those who are commissioned to enforce it. In addition, while women are typically barred from holding various government positions, in an interesting turn of events, on March 1 President Rouhani appointed two women as governors in Sistan-Baluchistan. Massoumeh Parandvar was appointed the governor of Hamoon and Homeira Rigi was appointed as governor of Qasreqand.
For more information on International Women’s Day and Iranian Women check out the latest edition of the Nabz-Nameh “Esfand.”
FREEDOM OF RELIGION
The constitution of Iran defines the country as an Islamic Shi’a state, but Iran is also home to communities of Sunni Muslims, Christians, Jews, Baha’is, Sufis, Buddhists, and Zoroastrians. The Iranian constitution, only recognizes and technically legally protects three minority religious groups, Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians. All other minority faiths are not recognized by the state and are not afforded legal protection. With or without protection, religious minorities very often face persecution and encounter discrimination, depriving them of their basic civil and human rights. Amongst the religious minorities, the Baha'i community often suffers the most. In late February, the appeals court in Khorasan Razavi Province sentenced four Baha’i citizens to prison on charges of collusion and membership in an illegal Baha’i organization. Also this month, more than 20 Sunni converts were arrested during a Qur’an and Arabic study meeting in Ahwaz. These recent arrests follow the arrests earlier this year of nine Ahwazi men for ‘religious activism’ after they converted to Sunni Islam. However, in an attempt to push back against the belief that Sunni Muslims are discriminated against, President Rouhani delivered a speech to residents of Bandar Abbas on February 27, asserting that discrimination between Shi’a and Sunni citizen rights in Iran does not exist. In his speech Rouhani stressed that his administration promised religious equality from the start and that it would stand by its commitment. Simultaneous with President Rouhani’s speech about religious equality in Bandar Abbas, two Gonabadi Dervishes in Bandar Abbas were summoned and interrogated for information regarding other Dervishes residing in the city. Relatedly, a ceremony honoring the anniversary of Dervish Solidarity Day in Tehran on February 22 was canceled by the Ministry of Information.
For more information on freedom of religion in Iran check out the Nabz-Nameh “Blasphemy and Opposition: Religious Minorities in Iran.”