Postcolonizing the Commonwealth: Studies in Literature and Culture

By Rowland Smith | Go to book overview

9

Five Minutes of Silence: Voices
of Iranian Feminists in the
Postrevolutionary Age

Nima Naghibi

In March of 1979, one month after the anti-imperial revolution in Iran, the country sustained five days of mass feminist demonstrations. Although a large body of outspoken Iranian women had marched against the oppressive practices of the monarchy during the revolutionary period, these same women, now at considerable risk to themselves, marched against the misogynist policies of the Islamic regime to the taunts and insults of the religious right who chanted, "rusari ya tusari, ” which translates as "cover your hair or receive a blow to your head.” 1 Within days, the Iranian revolutionary government expelled American feminist Kate Millett from the country. Shortly after Millett's expulsion, seventeen European women and one Egyptian woman from le Comité international du Droit des Femmes, an organization presided over by Simone de Beauvoir, went to Iran in a show of support for their "Iranian sisters.” This contingent of self- proclaimed "international” feminists travelled to Qom, the religious centre in Iran, and demanded an audience with religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini. Khomeini granted them a five-minute interview during which he was confronted with a barrage of questions regarding the

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Notes to chapter 9 are on pp. 141-42.

-133-

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