Open letter to Ms. Amanpour:
"Iranian Women better off today?" Are they?
The following is the copy of an open letter addressed by Dr. Parvin Darabi
of the "Homa Darabi" foundation (www.homa.org) to Christian Amanpoor, the
controversial CNN reporter of Iranian origin.
Amanpoor, whom her confiscated father's home was released recently, has
made several coverages on Iran by supporting the so-called reformists and
avoiding any interview with the real opponents of the Clerical regime.
The following letter is a reaction to her controversial and baseless
comments during a speech organized by the controversial "Society of
Iranian Professionals in San Jose" (SIP) represented by Ms. Ladan
Afrassiabi, a supporter of the Islamic regime and sister of Mr. Kaveh
Afrassiabi known for his lobbying activities for the Islamic regime. Kaveh
Afrassiabi, a former Harvard teacher, was expelled from this prestigious
university in 1996.
Ms. Afrassiabi has become the target of sharp criticisms made in the last
months, by several members of the SIP, denouncing her administration
skills and hidden support of the regime by organizing meetings benefiting
to the clerics.
Dr. Parvin Darabi, who's sister's committed suicide to protest against the
women's conditions in Iran by burning herself in front of an Islamic
republic official building in Tehran, has wrote the following open letter
following Amanpoor's speech and send it to SMCCDI on March 14, 2001. She
is known for her opposition to the former Iranian regime and intense
activity to defend the Women's rights in Iran.
On Monday, March 12 the Society of Iranian Professionals in San Jose had
sponsored a meeting with Ms. Amanpour, the famous CNN Foreign
Correspondent Reporter. The meeting was quite informative and I enjoyed
having been under the same roof with such a group of professional
During the question and answer period, I asked Ms. Amanpour the following
question "why she compared Iranian women with women in Afghanistan, Saudi
Arabia and such in her documentaries about Iran.
I told her that when I was growing up in Tehran in the 50ıs and prior to
my departure to America in 1964 no one dared to compare women in Iran with
the women in Saudi Arabia?" Because at that time the Iranian women
advancements in our society was so far and superior that we were compared
to most advanced Western women.
Ms. Amanpour interrupted my question and stated that since the Revolution
in 1979 things have improved quite a bit for the Iranian Women as a whole.
She explained that prior to the revolution the traditional Iranian women
stayed at home. Today they are out and demanding their rights. She
continued by saying that the Islamic revolution was the best thing that
could happen to the Iranian women. They have lost their legal rights
however, they are gaining grounds and are voting and getting elected to
She also stated that the Iranian women do not mind the hijab and they are
making head ways in gaining back some legal rights under the frame work of
the Islamic Republic. In addition she used herself as an example of a
woman who would not have considered pursuing a career in journalism had it
not been for the Islamic revolution which forced her to leave Iran and
come to the United States of America.
She also mentioned that in her documentary on Iran aired last year she was
a bit too optimistic about Khatami and what he was able to do for Iran and
I perceived from her presentation and her answers to the questions that it
was OK for the modern Iranian women such as my sister Dr. Homa Darabi and
hundreds of educated and accomplished women of the pre-revolution time to
be sacrificed in order to emancipate the traditional Iranian women. And I
gathered that in her opinion Iranian women are better off today than in
the period prior to the revolution.
Although I admire and respect such women as you for your accomplishments
and believe that you are among the icons in our global society. However, I
find your logic absolutely preposterous and without merit.
To state that it was worthwhile to sacrifice women such as Dr. Farokh Roo
Parsa, the first female Secretary of Education, Dr. Homa Darabi, the first
Iranian to be accepted to the United States Board of Psychiatry and
Neurology; and to imprison women such as Mehrangiz Kar, Shala Lahigi,
Shirin Ebadi, and to stab to death women such as Parvaneh Skandary-Forohar
and hundreds of young women to emancipate traditional women like Azam
Taleghani is beyond my comprehension.
The women that this Islamic revolution sacrificed were icons just as Ms.
Amanpour in their own professions and it took years of hard work and sweat
and tear for them to become who they were.
How dare can anyone say that it was worthwhile to loose them and gain
what? What has the Islamic Republic brought us except shame, fear,
poverty, isolation and .? Why should we want to have women such as
shameless Azam Taleghaniıs to be leaders of Iranian women? In her
interview with the Marie Claire Magazine, in the article "Tradition or
outrage" Azam Taleghani states that " If my own daughter committed
adultery, I would support death by stoning for her. The law is the law."
In the 20 years prior to the revolution of 1979 Iranian women gained
incredible amount of freedom and power. We gained the right to vote in
1963. The family protection act went into effect in 1964. The polygamy was
outlawed and Iranian women were given the right to divorce, get the
custody of their children, travel without any restriction from their
husbands or fathers and they were involved in all aspect of our society.
Above all we had the freedom to choose what to wear in public, what fields
of study to pursue and we could go abroad for higher education.
By 1978, 33% of university students were female with 2 million in the
workforce. 190,000 were professionals with university degrees. There were
333 women in the local councils, 22 in Majlis and 2 in the Senate.
Women were singers, dancers, musicians, performers, lawyers and judges.
Such professions are denied women under the rules of the Islamic Republic.
In the pre-revolution times women could be witnesses in the court of law
and the testimony of one woman was equal to that of one man. And if we
were harmed or lost our lives we or our families were compensated based on
our worth and not that of cows and camels, as is the practice under the
Islamic laws. And never our life and livelihood was equal to one half of
our male counter parts.
Was it really worthwhile to loose all those rights so that the traditional
women could be able to vote?!!!
Stoning, flogging, beating, acid throwing, mutilating and hanging in
public was considered barbaric and to my knowledge was never done to
women. And no mother in Iran was proud to stone her daughter to death as
the case of Azam Taleghani.
Besides what to vote on? Who to vote for? The ratification of the Islamic
laws that are barbaric and oppose to the basic human rights! Or to elect
the people who must be certified by an Islamic committee comprised of
group of outdated and fundamentalist Ayatollahs!!
And please, Ms. Amanpour donıt tell me that it is not Khatami, but the
Islamic Republicıs constitution that has closed 35 newspapers and
magazines and has imprisoned all the reporters, journalists, and editors.
Khatami has the power to provoke the people of Iran into a mass strike
against the foundation of the Islamic Republic.
Wasnıt Khatami elected by over 80% of the voting population? Didnıt he
have the support of over 22 million Iranian women and young men? Why
doesnıt he take advantage of his power and order a peaceful strike against
Khamnenei and his people?
He keeps talking about dialogue among civilizations.
Donıt you think it is time for him and his Mullah friends to become
civilized? You know why? Ms. Amanpour because he, himself is a Mullah and
a Muslim and there is no such a thing as a moderate Moslem.
Islam means submission and one either submits or gets killed in the
Islamic Republic of Iran. I have not found anyone who can define "moderate
Under the Shah we had personal freedom and not political freedom. Under
the Islamic Republic we have lost both.
I also donıt know what Iranian woman told you that she does not mind the
hijab. Perhaps you did not ask the question from a broad sample of women
in Iran to validate your assumption.
My sister burned herself to death in the public square because she did not
want to wear the hijab. Her last cries were "death to tyranny, long live
freedom, long live Iran."
I hope you will read the book, "Rage Against the Veil" I presented you to
understand how much better off we Iranian women were prior to the 1979
revolution and what we have to do to become an equal part of the Iranian
Sometimes, I let my mind go wild and I think what would we, Iranians, be
today if there was not this revolution and would allow the progress to
take its course. If we had not had the revolution we would not have had
the Iran/Iraq war and so many of our youth would not have died. All the
women I mentioned above would have kept contributing to the wellbeing of
our nation. I am positive that the exchange rate would have been lowered
to perhaps 20 Rials/Dollar instead of 8,500 Rials/Dollar. Our population
had not doubled in size and unemployment rate would have been a lot closer
to 5% than the 35%. Mandatory primary and secondary education would have
raised the knowledge base in our homeland. Foreign investment, tourism and
expansion of industry would have brought such prosperity to our homeland
that we would have all been home and you would have enlightened us with
your talk in Tehran and would have been introduced by an Iranian
colleague. And the society of Iranian professionals would have invited you
to the historical Talar-e-Rodaki.
One more thing, I believe revolution or no revolution you would have
become who you are just as I did due to our inherent will and
determination to succeed.
I believe the revolution of 1979 was a mistake since it gave the power to
the religious fundamentalist and it was not properly planned and correctly
That is perhaps why the Iranian people are not in favor of another
revolution until such time they can properly define the democratic form of
government they wish to have, a government that would give them life,
liberty and the pursuit of their happiness.
These are my thoughts.