HOSTAGE TO HER BELIEFS
I read recently that the daughter of Iran’s former president, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, had been sentenced to six months in prison for spreading “propaganda against the Islamic system”.
The sentencing of Faezeh Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former member of parliament turned political activist, was the latest move to stamp out potential dissent ahead of elections in March, the report said.
I remember meeting Ms Hashemi in 2000 several months before the Sydney Olympics. She and a colleague were sitting at the back of the audience of an international sports and human rights conference held in Bondi.
They stood out there because they were covered from head to foot in black chadors.
I waited that whole day to interview her for WIN (Women’s International Net Magazine), for whom I was Australian correspondent, believing she would have an interesting story to tell.
At the time she was the member for Parliament for Tehran, having received 800,000 votes in 1996. She had also founded the women’s newspaper, Zan.
“(My father’s) fame and also his name somehow was influential,” Ms Hashemi told me at the time. “(But) I personally was well known because of my previous social activities, especially for focussing on women’s issues, youth, and also on sport. Most people know me well from this.”
She was then the Vice Chairperson of the Iranian National Olympic Committee and Chairperson of the Council for Female Sports of the Islamic Countries and during our interview I learnt she had spent many years pushing for Muslim women to become more involved in sport, both in her native Iran and outside.
She was here in Sydney partly to convince the International Olympic Committee (IOC) organisers to allow Islamic dress during competition, in order to pave the way for Muslim women’s participation in the 2000 Olympics.
She believed the role of sport in Muslim women’s lives was not just a matter of personal choice but a fundamental human right.
And for this reason she had been lobbying the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to respect the dress codes of Islamic society.
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