Eye to Eye with the Beast- Part 2

Apr 25
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Iranian women during 1979 uprising
Iranian women during 1979 uprising

Early on after the 1979 revolution

Hengameh hajhassan01I was a nurse at the time and in those years didn’t know much about politics, was thirsty to learn more and to tell you the truth I had no prejudice thoughts in mind. Considering the fact that in the early years after the 1979 revolution Iran was experiencing a relatively open political atmosphere, everything was available and I eagerly participated in all the meetings and speeches held by different groups. Little by little I came to learn that despite all the first glance similarities, the differences in practice were actually surprising. I came to understand the ideology and political methods adopted by the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) were different. They were much more appealing and quite simply much more honest.

At first I couldn’t realize why the PMOI/MEK were always the targets of the utmost pressures, and why did the mullahs – despite being Muslim and rising to power after the revolution – had such animosity against the PMOI/MEK who also believed in Islam? I was not experienced enough to understand that in fact the root of this row and major dispute is over two completely different interpretations of Islam. For one, Islam defines power and crackdown against the people, while for the other Islam is the utter meaning of freedom, the quest for freedom and people’s welfare and comfort.

In the spring of 1979 along with my friends Shekar Mohammadzadeh, Tahmine Rastegar Moghadam, Tubi Rajabithani, Kobra Alizadeh, Akram Bahador and others, we all considered the PMOI as the only source of hope in the face of the reactionary mullahs. We would be learning first hand what pains the Iranian regime had prepared for us due to this very decision.

As a woman, and despite the fact that I considered myself a PMOI supporter, there was one issue weighing heavy on my mind: the question of how the PMOI view women. At the epicenter of this inquiry was why do PMOI women wear headscarves, or hijab?  In all the PMOI’s small and large gatherings and speeches I was always waiting to see if anyone would ask me why I didn’t have a hijab. I was alert to see if they would impose restrictions on me for not wearing a hijab, and do they consider me different from others who had hijabs? Do they view me, a woman, as half of a man, as the mullahs’ continue to do so today? However, I never experienced such an approach amongst the PMOI…

As a woman without hijab, when standing alongside young and ordinary PMOI/MEK women in various rallies against mandatory hijab and clothing regulations imposed by the regime, and when beaten alongside them by the pro-Khomeini hooligans and club-wielders, and when I witnessed with my own eyes how the young PMOI/MEK women defended with all their hearts the rights of other women to be able to choose their own clothing and cover, I came to realize I had come to the right place and found what I had been searching for.

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Published in Personal Essay

External Links

Two Misguided Reports

  • HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH Report
    HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH Report
    On 18 May 2005, the US based Human Rights Watch (“HRW”) issued a 28-page report (“the HRW Report”) concerning the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (“PMOI / MEK”).  Entitled ‘No Exit: Human Rights Abuses Inside the MKO Camps’, the HRW Report was essentially based on 12 hours of telephone interviews with 12…
  • Courting Disaster, A response to Rand report on People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran
    Courting Disaster, A response to Rand report on People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran
    The RAND National Defense Research Institute published in July 2009 the report The Mujahedin-e Khalq: A Policy Conundrum for the Multi-National Force-Iraq, Task Force 134 (Detainee Operations). The report focuses on the circumstances surrounding the detention of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MeK) at Camp Ashraf and “whether MeK members were taken into custody…