Magazine article New Internationalist

Gunning for the Veil: Women Lead the Resistance [Iraqi-Based Opposition Movement to Iran's Islamic Regime]

Magazine article New Internationalist

Gunning for the Veil: Women Lead the Resistance [Iraqi-Based Opposition Movement to Iran's Islamic Regime]

Article excerpt

WHEN Kobra Tehmasbi speaks, men in Camp Ashraf listen. She is a division commander of the National Liberation Army (NLA) and has hundreds of men and women under her command. The NLA is the armed wing of the Paris-based Iranian opposition party, the National Council of Resistance (NCR).

Tehmasbi, 35, is one of thousands of women who constitute more than 70 per cent of the army's officer corps, and a third of its rank and file. Based in Iraq, near the Iranian border, the NLA claims to be almost 30,000-strong.

'Most of the repression of the Iranian regime is directed against women,' says Tehmasbi, adjusting her khaki headscraf. 'It should not be shocking to find women making up the backbone of an armed resistance.'

Women opposing the austere Islamic regime in Tehran have found inspiration in the NCR's charismatic leader, Maryam Rajavi, whose husband is the NLA's senior commander. Some 52 per cent of the NCR's parliament-in-exile is female. …

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