US-Iranian Attitudes

1. Who is Shirin Ebadi? List and briefly discuss some of her many reasons for writing this memoir.

Shirin Ebadi was a Muslim lady born in the small town in the north eastern part of Iran called Hamedan. This was in 1947. By then, her father, Mohammad Ali Ebadi, was the head of the registry office in Hamedan. Her parents ensured that she alongside her siblings were highly educated. When she turned one year old, her family moved to Tehran where she attended school and, lived for the greater part of her childhood.  She attended Anoshiravn Dadgar and Reza Shah Kabir high school before attending the University of Tehran in 1965 for a law doctorate. In 1969, she was appointed a judge in Iran. This marked her as the first Muslim woman in the record of Iran to be hired as judge. Soon, she was promoted to the position of a president of Bench 24 of the city court in Tehran. 

In 1979, the Islamic revolution took place leading to the belief that women were not supposed to be given positions as judges. This led to the demotion of all the female judges in Iran. Instead, the female judges were made court clerks. However, when the women protested, they were given the position of "experts" in the court. As a result of this, the Shirin Ebadi resigned from her position. Her attempt to apply for a law certificate was derailed and she was housebound until 1992. This is the year when she finally managed to open her own law practice in Iran. During her stay at home, Shirin wrote many articles some of which were published in the Iranian journals. Moreover, she was a lecturer in the university where she strengthened the girl child to excel and look beyond the cultural barriers. She also used her practice to defend women and children who were accused of various crimes especially in politically charged cases. One of the most famous articles she wrote was the 'Iran Awakening'. This book is a unique book that has blended hopes, joy, nostalgia and sorrow of the Iranian people. The book further gives an inspiring story of a remarkable woman and her battle for the soul of a nation (Fayazmanesh 71).

2. Describe US-Iranian attitudes to each other. What events/interactions/policies shaped those attitudes? Do you think these attitudes are justified?

Relations between the United States and Iran began in the 19th century although it had small importance by then. However, this only lasted until the post-World War II era of petroleum exports from the Persian Gulf. Since then, an era of close alliance between the Iran government and the American government was trailed by hostility between the two countries. This happened after the 1979 Iranian Revolution. The greatest cause of the conflict was conflict between the Islamic Revolution. The Americans have always been against the Islam religion. They constantly associate it with terrorism yet it's a religion like any other and deserves to be respected. On the other hand, the American arrogance has been a major cause of the tension. This is because they meddle in everyone's affairs thinking that they are the best in the world. This attitude is off putting as none is more superior to the other. To prove their superiority, the Americans put an embargo on trade with Iran. This angered the Iranian people. The American people are greedy and want to take over the oil reserves in Iran. This is the reason why they spend so much time and capital trying to gain control over the region. Moreover, they use the excuse that Iranians are terrorists. Americans act like thy have the answers to everything and everyone's problems and this rubs many people the wrong way. In almost every war that takes place in the word, America is part and parcel of it. This proves that they are arrogant and think that they have the right to control the whole world (Ebadi 65).

In the 1960-1970s, Iran's oil revenues grew significantly. This greatly weakened the U.S. influence in Iranian politics and strengthening the power of the Iranian state. In April 1995, Bill Clinton imposed a total embargo on Iran. This disrupted the good trade, which had been prospering following the end of the Iran-Iraq War. In 1996, the American Congress imposed the Iran-Libya Sanctions act. This was designed to stop other countries in the world from making large investments in Iranian energy. The act blocked investors from investing in Iran and soon the European Union denounced the act (Dobson and Marsh 54).

The US has been violating the Iranian territorial sovereignty since the year 2003. It has accomplished this through the use of drones, soldiers, provocations and bombs. In June 2005, the American attacked Iran". The United States has also been invading Iran from Afghanistan. They claim that they are hunting for nuclear weapons. In August 2005, , the U.S. State Department refused to issue visas for Iran's parliamentary speaker, Mousa Qorbani, and a group of other senior Iranian officials  who were going to participate in a meeting held by the United Nations (UN). Since 2003, the United States has claimed is developing nuclear weapons. Iran has however, retained that its nuclear program is only for generating electricity.  The political situation between the two is volatile despite efforts by the UN and other organizations to bring peace between the two.

3. Why could an educated, professional woman like SE support the Iranian revolution in 1978-79? What events changed SE's perception of the revolution? According to SE why did Iranians come to dislike the Islamic Republic created by the revolution?

When the Iranian revolution took place in 1979, SE was 31 years old. The revolution demanded that all the ministers should be flushed out of their offices. SE together with other protesters stormed into the minister of Justice Office. However, when they got to the office, the minister was not present. Instead, they found an elderly judge who on seeing SE questioned her judgment on the matter. She actually questioned her on her appearance and in a surprise since she could not believe it. She reiterated to her that the assistance she was giving out to other people was not welcomed since the said people were in pursuit of grabbing power from them.  The old judge said to SE. However, SE believed she was doing the right thing and that she was fighting to free Iran.  This was not to case, because after the revolution, Ebadi and other women judges were all demoted. Regulations that discriminated against women were put in place. This was contrary to what Ebadi expected.  She fought for a better Iran and instead, the Iran she knew got worse for her and her women partners. This greatly angered them as they were forced to comply with the discriminating laws. When the penal code was made, the woman's value was equated to a man's eye before the law. This meant that the woman was considered to be of insignificant value to the community as compared to the man. Ebadi never thought that the new Islamic penal code would betray the women in such a way.

To make things worse, it interfered with her marriage to Javad.  This is because; the penal code defined a married couple as two distinct individuals. It gave the man the overall power to marry and divorce his wife whenever he desired. In addition to this, it allowed the men to practice polygamy. The man was granted the full custody of the children in the case of a divorce and this was the last straw that broke the camels back. This imbalance in power between the men and the women in the community is what triggered an outrage in Iran. People protested and in the 1990s the leaders realized that they needed to have the support of the women. This is what triggered Ebadi to get her legal license. Ebadi used this opportunity to argue cases. In addition, she used religious texts to interpret the Koran and advocate for more just ways to deal with the women and children in Iran (Janda 81).

4. What impact did the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war have on Iranian attitudes to the revolution? How did Ayatollah Khomeini frame the war; how did he characterize the war in terms of Iranian or Shi'a history?

Ayatollah Khomeni was the leader of the Islamic revolution in Iran. Through this revolution, the Iran government was transformed from a monarchy to an Islamic state. This meant that Iran was to be governed in accordance to the Quran and its teachings. The ruler before the Revolution was Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. People saw him as a corrupt and authoritative leader.  Many people also believed that he was misdirecting the country by leading it in the wrong direction. Further accusations were that he was making Iran increasingly Westernized.  This was the basis on which Ayatollah based the new Islamic Republic of Iran. As a result of the revolution, there was constant change within Iran. This has lead to some people claiming that the revolution is still continuing. Some of the changes tht took place were that the literacy level of Iraq greatly improved. In addition to this, the infant and maternal mortality rates were significantly reduced. The administration was also improved in that elections were held democratically for both the national and local levels.  On the other hand, the new government was accused of discriminating against other religions, repressing and imprisoning opponents and relentlessly pulling back on the rights of women in Iran. These attributes are what caused opposition from some groups in the country (Alikhani 124).

5. Describe the unforeseen effects of government policies about elections and sex segregation in schools and universities on women, women's consciousness, women's demands and organization.

When the Islamic revolution took place the women in Iran did not know that this regime would oppress them. This is because; the Islamic penal code was biased against women and it stated women as a minor part of the society. Those who were against the code protested. This is one thing the government did not anticipate.  This outrage resulted in the government recognizing the position of women in the justice department. As a result, women like Ebadi were given their law licenses.

After the revolution, all women in Iran were supposed to wear headscarfs when in public. This was an unforeseen move as many women protested to this move. In addition to this, women were not allowed to hold administrative positions over their male counterparts. This resulted in women like Ebadi being demoted from being a judge to a secretary in the courts. This was very demeaning to the women who earlier on had senior jobs. In addition to this, women were considered as significant as a man's eye before the law. This meant that the women represented a very minor part of the man's world and the law did not favor them. Another drastic move was that a man was allowed to marry up to three wives and they were expected to all love in the same house. The women had no voice in the society. They were supposed to submit to everything the men wanted without any objection. If a man grew weary of his wife, the law granted him permission to divorce her without an explanation. The children on the other hand were to be left with the father in case of as divorce. The revolution oppressed the women and children in the society. However, it made some positive changes in terms of developing the nation and uplifting the living conditions of the Iranian people.

6. "If we wanted to make a tangible difference in the lives of the women around us and in the lives of people like Leila and her family, we had no choice but to advocate for female equality in an Islamic framework."(122) answer the following QUESTIONS(S) for number six below: SE makes a clear distinction between Islam and the rules of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The laws of Iran are oppressive and discriminatory for women; Islam is not. She makes this argument in terms of shari'a and ijtihad.  A.) Define these two terms and the relationship between them.

Shari' is a set of Muslim laws that is derived from the Islam's foundation written scrolls that obligate all Muslims to fight Jihad against all non believers. Jihad is a holy war that is in accordance with the Sharia. It's a war against all non- believer. This means that Shari'a is the law that allows Muslims to practice jihad while jihad is the actual holy war.

B.) What are the pluses and minuses of the Shir'a tradition of ijtihad?

Shari'a forces Muslims to submit to Islamic law. In addition to this, it promotes discrimination against women. As a result of this, it denies women the chance to voice their ideas and be heard. Moreover, it denies people their freedom of association and expression. Shari'a also criminalizes sexual autonomy of the people and also propagates hatred and violence against other religions. Countries that are officially ruled by Shari'a usually encourage distasteful behavior in people. These include; underage marriages, forced marriages, "honor killing" usually done on females to preserve the family honor, female genital mutilation (FGM),  domestic abuse, polygamy and marital rape. Jihad causes death and sorrow in a community. In addition to this, it creates a hostile environment in which children are taught how to kill their neighbors rather than live together in harmony. This interferes with every aspect of the community as young men fail to go to school in favor if training for Jihad. As a result, the quality of living in these countries is very poor.

C.) Give two examples of how SE tried to use Islam or shari'a law to challenge or change Iranian law?

In her cases, SE tried to use religious literature to try and fight for a just and fair manner of treating women. However, she never succeeded. Most women were afraid to speak up for themselves, this is because the shari'a law allowed honor killing where the families were allowed to kill their wives, sisters, and children in order to preserve the honor of the family. The case where a couple was killed trying to reveal documents on the Iran regime was a hair raiser to many. However, SE was unable to proceed with it because of a death threat. She stumbled upon her name on a list of people who were marked for assassination. This instilled in her great fear for her life. The government on the other hand put road blocks on all her attempts to investigate the crime.

Bernard L. Madoff
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