Friday, May 25, 2007

Heroines of freedom: Haleh Esfandiari, Malalai Joya, Nilofar Bakhtiar

Haleh Esfandiari
As I reported last week, Haleh Esfandiari, Iranian dissident, is in detention in Iran. Her crime? Interogators say she has taken money from the George Soros Institute, to lead a "soft revolution" in Iran. According to The Guardian,
The accusations against Mrs Esfandiari, whose husband is Jewish, follow claims by the hardline Kayhan newspaper - thought to be close to the Iranian leadership - that she belonged to the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobby group.
Her support is pretty widespread: Juan Cole, Noam Chomsky, Joe Lieberman, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama.

More from Free Haleh, OpenDemocracy, Kash Kheirkhah, Washington Post, Michael Kraig, Chapati Mystery.
Other Iran links: Marjane Satrapi the next target (from Laila Lalami); LabourStart Iran.

Malalai Joya
Malalai Joya is a member of parliament in Afghanistan, and a thorn in the side of clerical partiarchy there. She was suspended after describing the atmosphere in the Afghan parliament as "worse than a stable". Apparently, insulting politicians is illegal - although that did not stop MPs throwing water bottles at her across the floor last year and threatening to rape her, after she described some as warlords.

More from Human Rights Watch, Alas, Global Voices, Jack Layton.

Nilofar Bakhtiar
Nilofar Bakhtiar is Pakistan's tourism minister, forced to resign after a fatwa from Islamist clerics, who called her "obscene" for hugging a man in public (at a charity event for victims of the October 2005 earthquake). Apparently, and happily, either she withdrew her resignation or it was not accepted by the prime minister.

More from Sehar Time, Charlie Pottins, Sugiero,

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