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Her ‘Belief’ In Chains

Fatemeh ‘Mary’ Mohammadi was born in a Muslim family in Iran. Later, the 24-year-old Human Rights activist converted herself to Christianity, and paid a high price for her faith and willingness to speak out for Human Rights in the West Asian nation. In February 2022, Mary was forced to leave her country, and she settled in the US. After the death of Iranian Kurd girl Mahsa Amini in Police custody triggered anti-Hijab protests across Iran in September 2022, Mary has revealed that the Iranian Authorities have always used sexual violence against female protesters, while talking to media.

Mary claimed that the Iranian Police had arrested her in 2020 for not wearing hijab in a proper manner, and sent her to a detention centre near Tehran. At the centre, she was forced to strip by the security guards. Although all the detainees there were women, she strongly condemned this move of the administration, saying: “If my hair is a problem, is it not a problem to force me to take off all my clothes?

According to Mary, the Iranian Administration resorts to sexual harassment in order to suppress girls. Girls are also threatened in various ways, as this is the only strategy of the Iranian Government to suppress the voice of opposition. Mary has claimed that wearing hijabs is a must, even for the non-Muslim girls in Iran. It is mandatory as per the Iranian laws. Hence, Mary had to wear the hijab to cover her head and the rest of her body, even after becoming a Christian.

The Iranian social worker further claimed that she was travelling to Tehran by bus in 2019. As she removed the hijab from her head due to the heat, a woman, wearing hijab, approached her almost immediately. The woman also asked her to cover her head with the hijab. As Mary refused to obey the order of the unknown woman, the latter attacked her, and the Human Rights activist received injuries in her face. She, with a bloody face, rushed to the local Police Station to seek justice. Unfortunately, the Police detained Mary, and released the accused.

Watch: Mary Mohammadi interview

Mary has stated that independent girls, like her, are fed up with the growing Moral Policing in Iran. She has slammed the orthodox Muslims for launching attacks on Human Rights (especially Women’s Rights), stressing that there exists no environment for girls to enjoy Freedom in Iran. After converting to Christianity in 2017, Mary started facing various difficulties. The university, which she was attending, dismissed her without any reason. She also lost her job, due to her faith in Christianity.

Mary believes that the Iranians shall no longer remain silent after the unnatural death of Mahsa Amini. She is of the opinion that a more aggressive movement, like the one that has been going on in Iran for the last couple of months since the Amini incident, can lead to a Revolution. Mary thinks that it is a very important time in the history of Iran.

It seems that Mary is right, as anti-hijab (or anti-Government) protests have heated up again in Iran. Hundreds of protestors have lost their lives so far, in Police firing; however, protests are still going on. The protesters have started calling for the death of the Supreme Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Many have staged protests with posters, which read: “Death to the Dictator.” It was virtually unimaginable even a few months ago in the hardline ultra-conservative Muslim-majority country.

Watch: Iranians knocking turbans of clerics

Human Rights organisations of different countries have claimed that people have taken to the streets in major cities, including Tehran, Kerman, Mahabad, and Kermanshah. Many images and videos of the protests have gone viral on social media. One such video shows the Iranian Armed Forces opening fire inside a dormitory of Kurdistan University of Medical Sciences. The concerned authorities are yet to confirm the number of casualties. A new wave of protests against the shooting in the dormitory rocked Tehran and Kerman in the last week of October 2022.

Amnesty International (AI) has claimed that security forces shot dead at least eight protesters in four provinces on October 27. Another Human Rights organisation has claimed that more than 160 youths have sacrificed their lives in the past one-and-half months while participating in protests. Most of them received bullets in the neck, throat or head. According to Human Rights organisations, the security forces targetted upper portions of the protesters, instead of shooting them in the legs, in order to kill them. Meanwhile, the Government of Iran has claimed that 20 security personnel were killed in the last one month.

The Administration of President Ebrahim Raisi has pointed the finger at the US spy agency CIA behind the situation in Iran, stressing that Washington DC is backing the protesters in an attempt to topple his Government. The Iranian intelligence agency, too, has issued a statement, saying that the US spies in Britain, Saudi Arabia and Israel are helping the younger generation of Iran in creating trouble for the Government in Tehran.

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