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Activist Narges Mohammadi Wins Nobel Peace Prize Symbolizing Hope for Iranian Women

by Xanthe Scharff October 6, 2023

The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday to imprisoned Iranian human rights activist Narges Mohammadi sent a clear message to the women of Iran: The world hears their voices.

Mohammadi, 51, who is serving a 10-year sentence in Tehran’s Evin prison, began her activism against Iran’s religious tyranny and oppression of women 32  years ago as a college student. Her mission, her husband told The Washington Post, “is to be the voice for the voiceless.”

Over the course of Mohammadi’s 32 years of activism, the regime’s authorities have arrested her 13 times. She watched from prison a year ago as mass protests erupted in Iran following the death on Sept. 16, 2022 of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman arrested by the country’s morality policy for wearing her headscarf, or hijab, too loosely.

For months, cries of “Woman, Life, Freedom” filled the streets as women demanded justice for Amini. Then repression resumed with renewed fervor. Even as the Nobel committee recognizes Mohammadi’s “fight against the oppression of women in Iran and her fight to promote human rights and freedom for all,” a teenage girl lies comatose after an encounter last week with Iran’s morality police. Armita Geravand, 16, was on Tehran’s metro on her way to school when the police stopped her for improper dress.

In an essay last month for The New York Times, Mohammadi noted that in the months before the first anniversary of Amini’s death, the regime doubled down on its efforts to suppress dissent and the country’s prisons were once again brimming with female activists.

Despite the crackdown, Mohammadi says the mass movement is far from over.

“What the government may not understand,” she wrote, “is that the more of us they lock up, the stronger we become.” The women, she said, will not give up.

She closed her essay on a note of optimism: “The government’s violent and brutal repression may sometimes keep people from the streets, but our struggle will continue until the day when light takes over darkness and the sun of freedom embraces the Iranian people.”

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