Rooz Speaks to Women’s Rights Activist Khadijeh Moghaddam

We Don’t Feel Safe in Our Own Homes

Monday 28 January 2008

Rooz Online: Khadijeh Moghaddam is an established civil society activist and a member of the One ‎Million Signatures Campaign to Change Gender Discriminatory Laws in Iran. A few ‎days ago, Moghaddam was forced by police officers to cancel a funeral ceremony she ‎was holding at her house in memory of her late mother-in-law. In an interview with ‎Rooz, Moghaddam speaks about that experience and the general intimidation of civil ‎society activists. ‎

Rooz (R): The disruption of your mother’s funeral was very unexpected. Do social ‎activist have to obtain the permission of security organizations to hold wedding and ‎funeral ceremonies? ‎

Khadijeh Moghaddam (KM): We don’t feel safe in our own homes. After the death of ‎my mother-in-law, some of my friends, neighbors and colleagues decided to visit me on a ‎certain day. I agreed and we made arrangements to hold a ceremony on Saturday. ‎Around 3 pm that day, security officers began calling our house threatening that we ‎cannot hold such a ceremony and that I need to go to the police station. I said I won’t go ‎and that you can’t ask me to go verbally. They said, okay, we will send you a summons ‎in writing. Half an hour later, they came to our house with a written summons. They ‎asked me to go with them. I spoke with my lawyer, Shirin Ebadi, who told me that the ‎written summons is illegal as well, because only the prosecutor can issue such a ‎summons. Meanwhile, guests were coming to our house but weren’t allowed to come in. ‎

R: What explains their extreme sensitivity? ‎

KM: They are afraid of the popularization of our campaign, because the campaign is ‎moving along very well despite all obstacles they have created. They are ignorant of the ‎fact that women’s issues have become the public’s issues and many officials and ‎religious scholars have called for revising discriminatory laws. Majlis MP’s have asked ‎women activists to go there and discuss the issues with them. These things show how ‎successful the campaign has been so far. ‎

R: In your opinion, how do actions such as this affect peaceful movements like the One ‎Million Signatures Campaign?‎

KM: They have the opposite effect because people are aware of the issues. They want to ‎do something to stop the campaign but the opposite will occur. I tell you right now that ‎several million people support the campaign, but because of obstacles they have created, ‎we have not gathered one million signatures yet. People may get scared and not sign the ‎forms, but they do support the campaign. We have to keep doing what we are doing with ‎more energy and effort… In any case, I will file a complaint against the police. We like ‎to continue our peaceful efforts in peace and the actions of security officers will not ‎derail us. Actually, they make us more determined. If the government wants to act in ‎people’s interest, it actually needs to be very thankful of the campaign’s members ‎because they work so tirelessly to raise public awareness toward progress and ‎development of their country. We do not expect to receive presents, but we should not be ‎punished either. ‎


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