Imprisoned in her country, Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi used the voices of her children to criticize the “tyrannical and misogynistic religious regime” in Iran this Sunday in Oslo when she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
An outspoken opponent of compulsory hijab for women and the death penalty in Iran, Narges Mohammadi has been imprisoned in Tehran’s Evin Prison since 2021 and was unable to receive the prestigious award in person. During the ceremony at Oslo City Hall, her two 17-year-old twins Ali and Kiana, exiled in France since 2015, dressed all in black, read in French a speech she managed to relay from his cell.
“I am a woman from the Middle East, from a region that, although heir to a rich civilization, is currently trapped in war and victim to the flames of terrorism and extremism,” she said. behind the high, cold walls of the prison.”
“I am an Iranian woman who is proud and honored to contribute to this civilization, today a victim of oppression by a tyrannical and misogynistic religious regime,” she added, calling on the international community to do more for human rights. In his absence, the chair topped with his portrait was symbolically empty.
Compulsory wearing of hijab is a “shame on the government”
The 51-year-old activist, who has been arrested and convicted several times in recent decades, is one of the main faces of the “Woman, Life, Freedom” uprising in Iran. The movement, which saw women remove their veils, cut their hair and demonstrate in the streets, was sparked by the death last year of 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini after she was arrested in Tehran for failing to comply with the law. strict Islamic dress code.
“The mandatory hijab imposed by the government is neither a religious obligation nor a cultural model, but rather a means of controlling and subjugating an entire society,” Narges Mohammadi reiterated on Sunday, calling the obligation a “government disgrace” imposed on an Iranian. women to wear it.
In a speech read to the Norwegian royal family, the activist portrayed the Islamic Republic as “essentially alien to its people”, condemning, among other things, repression, the harmonization of the judiciary, propaganda and censorship, nepotism and corruption.
Although she was celebrated with great fanfare in Oslo, the winner had to watch a hunger strike behind bars in solidarity with the Baha’i community, the largest religious minority in Iran, which claims to be the victim of discrimination in many sectors of society.
In the more than century-long history of the Nobel Prize, Narges Mohammadi is the fifth laureate to receive the Peace Prize in prison, after the German Carl von Ossietzky, the Burmese Aung San Suu Kyi, the Chinese Liu Xiaobo and the Belarusian Ales Bialiatsky.
“Narges Mohammadi’s struggle can be compared (…) to that of Albert Luthuli, Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela (all of whom also received the Nobel Prize, editor’s note), this struggle lasted more than 30 years until the end of the apartheid regime in South Africa,” – stressed the President of the Nobel Committee Berit Reiss-Andersen. “Women in Iran have been fighting against segregation for more than 30 years. Their dream of a brighter future will eventually come true,” she said.
For their part, Narges Mohammadi’s twins, separated from their mother for more than eight years, say they don’t know if they will ever see her alive again. “Personally, I’m pretty pessimistic,” his daughter Kiana said Saturday, while his brother Ali, by contrast, said he was “very, very optimistic.”
Protest in Iran is being brutally suppressed. According to the non-governmental organization Iran Human Rights (IHR), 551 protesters, including dozens of women and children, were killed by security forces and thousands more were arrested. Mahsa Amini’s family was not allowed to leave Iran to receive the Sakharov Prize, awarded posthumously to the young woman, on Sunday during a parallel ceremony in France, their lawyer in France said.