His honourable eminence Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri passed away in the city of Qom in Iran. H.E Montazeri was one of the “grand Maraja” of Shia Islam. He was one the leaders of Iranian Revolution and was appointed as the successor to supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini. He developed serious differences with Khomeini on the situation of human rights and liberties in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Angered by his dissent Khomeini dismissed him and a junior cleric Syed Ali Khamenei  who  was only a mid-ranking clerik or Hojjatoleislam was elevated to the rank of Iran’s supreme leader after Khomeini’s death.

Though Hossein-Ali Montazeri was one of the principle architect of theocracy in Iran and he was the only senior Shia cleric who supported Khomeini’s controversial doctrine of Viliyat-e-Fiqqihe or the “rule of cleric”, he soon realized the follies of this doctrine and the evil of Islamic republic. He openly protested against political executions, lack of civil liberties and restricting  rights of women in the Islamic Republic.

He was perhaps the only cleric in Iran to criticize Khomeinie’s infamous fatwa against the great British novelist Salman Rushdie.

He was the strongest and most vocal critic of the Islamic republic within the clerical establishment of Qom. He was also a persistent and brave critic of evil regime of Ahmedinijad and Khamenei. He protested the massive election rigging and use of violence to suppress the people of Iran by the evil regime. He gave a call for public mourning for 3 days on murder of student protester , the nightingale of peace, Neda Aga Soltan.

Aga Montazeri will also be remembered for his brave stance on human rights of the Bahai community in Iran.

He will be remembered as one of the principle architect of clerical rule in Iran but also as one of its finest critics and defender of human rights.


فوج حق کو کچل نہیں سکتی
فوج چاہے کسی یزید کی ہو
لاش اٹھتی ہے پھر عَلم بن کر
لاش چاہے کسی شہید کی ہو

Once again Iranians have demonstrated that this revolution will not end till Iran is free of Mullahs. One must understands that movement is going on despite unprecedented tyranny. Activists have been murdered, tortured and raped [both males and females]. The yazid of Iran refuses to step down but let it be known to him that Iran will not surrender. Today every one is Iran is shouting

Death to Dictator

Death to Dictator

Curse on Ahmedinijad and his anti semitism

Death to the evil regime

Death to Imperialism

Long Live People of Iran

Shaheryar Ali

From : The BBC

Thousands of opposition supporters have clashed with security forces during a government-sponsored rally in Tehran.

Iran’s reformists had been warned not to try to turn the pro-Palestinian Quds (Jerusalem) Day marches into anti-government protests.

Reports say opposition leaders Mir-Hossein Mousavi and former President Mohammad Khatami were attacked.

The opposition has been banned from holding rallies since the disputed presidential election in June.

As part of the Quds Day events, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered a speech in which he repeated his view that the Nazi Holocaust was a myth.

Tear gas

The Quds Day rallies are held annually on the last Friday of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

ANALYSIS
BBC former Tehran correspondent Jim Muir
BBC former Tehran correspondent Jim Muir

Thousands of opposition protesters rose to the call of their leaders.

It was the first time in two months they have been out on the streets in numbers.

There have been mounting calls in right-wing circles for reformist leaders to be arrested, as hundreds of their followers have been. That could be the next phase of the drama.

The protests may not have achieved much in themselves but they have shown that the movement is still alive and defiant and the country, and its political system, remain deeply divided.

That is not what Mr Ahmadinejad wanted to see as he prepares for important exchanges with the outside world.

The day began peacefully, with thousands of Mr Ahmadinejad’s supporters marching through central Tehran.

But despite warnings by the authorities not to try to hijack the event, protesters shouted slogans in support of Mr Mousavi, a key opponent of the president.

Reports say there were clashes between police and protesters as the march progressed, with some arrests. Stones were thrown, and police used tear gas.

Iranian state-run channel Press TV showed footage of an opposition rally, with many supporters wearing green, the colour adopted by supporters of Mr Mousavi.

Mr Mousavi was forced to leave the rally after his car was attacked, the official Irna news agency reported.

Witnesses said supporters helped Mr Mousavi into his car when hardliners approached and the vehicle sped away as a crowd tried to hold the hardliners back.

Reformist website Parlemennews.ir reported that Mr Khatami was pushed to the ground and his turban knocked off, before police intervened.

POST-ELECTION EVENTS
12 June: Millions vote in presidential election. Turnout put at 85%
13 June: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared winner with 62.6%. Rival candidates challenge the result and allege vote-rigging
Mass opposition protests in days that follow. At least 30 people are killed and 4,000 arrested
19 June: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei backs the result and warns against further protests
1 Aug: Trials begin of hundreds arrested over the unrest. Senior opposition leaders among the defendants
5 Aug: President Ahmadinejad sworn in for second term

In his speech at Tehran University, Mr Ahmadinejad again criticised the creation of Israel.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Mr Ahmadinejad’s denial of the Holocaust was “abhorrent as well as ignorant”.

“It is very important that the world community stands up against this tide of abuse,” Mr Miliband said.

For the past 30 years, the sermon on Jerusalem Day has been given by former President Hashemi Rafsanjani.

The BBC’s former Tehran correspondent Jim Muir says Mr Rafsanjani is normally regarded as a pillar of the Islamic power system, but he quietly sympathises with the opposition.

This year he has been stood down in favour of a hard-line preacher.

Mr Mousavi was defeated by President Ahmadinejad in June’s election, which opposition leaders claim was rigged.

In the aftermath, there was a violent crackdown on anti-government protesters, with a number of deaths and hundreds of people arrested

Written by Niklas Albin Svensson Wednesday, 22 July 2009

with thanks: International Marxist Website

Last week we witnessed a public spectacle in Iran, which revealed the resilience of the mass movement, but most importantly it brought out into the open the serious divisions at the top of the regime, the precursor of an even deeper crisis. What is required now is for the working class to step in as a force that can lead the whole movement and bring down the regime.

On Friday another nail was put in the coffin of the Islamic Republic when prominent cleric Rafsanjani’s public criticism of the regime’s dealing with the elections sparked another massive protest on the streets of Tehran.

Demonstration in Tehran, July 17. Photo by .faramarzDemonstration in Tehran, July 17. Photo by .faramarzAyatollah Rafsanjani, former president of Iran, came out in public with his views on the elections on Friday. Although his sympathies for the opposition were known before, his public statement in favour of the opposition sparked massive protests. The streets of Iran that had been quiet for a week, once more came alive with hundreds of thousands of protesters.

Rafsanjani’s speech, although correctly interpreted as being pro-reform, hardly contained any radical demands. He did call for political prisoners to be released and questioned the results. Yet, it was a far cry from the demands that are being put forward by the rank-and-file of the movement. “Death to the dictator”, which has become one of the popular slogans of the students and workers on the streets of Teheran, leaves little room for Khamenei to continue as a leader.

The whole speech of Rafsanjani was directed towards the leaders of the Islamic Republic:

“This period, after the results of the elections, is a bitter era. I do not believe anyone from any faction wanted this to happen. We have all lost in this event. We have all lost and now ask ourselves: why did it happen. We need unity today, more than ever.”

The unity he is talking about is clearly the unity of the state bureaucracy, the political and economical elite in which Rafsanjani plays a central role. His own wealth and status is in jeopardy. The hard-liners were already moving against him before the election. His support for Mousavi has only deepened their dislike of him. Rafsanjani is fighting for his survival and it seems best served by continuing to support the efforts of the opposition.

Unlike the masses of youth and workers that are protesting on the streets, however, Rafsanjani’s interests are completely tied up with the Islamic Republic that he is desperately trying to save. His message to the clerical/political establishment is: reform or you will be crushed. He argues that protests should be allowed, in order for people to continue to face the-choice-that-is-no-choice between the “hard-liners” and the “reformists”.

“If we violate the law, then there will be no boundaries left. We should raise our issues in the context of the law and find solutions for them within the framework of the law. We should accept whatever the law says and if there are some people who have problems with some laws, they should wait until those laws are corrected.”

Demonstration in Tehran, July 17. Photo by .faramarzDemonstration in Tehran, July 17. Photo by .faramarzRafsanjani’s message to the rank-and-file of the opposition is to remain within the legal framework of the Islamic Republic. He asks the workers and youth to respect the legal apparatus that protects the basiji and tortures and imprisons trade unionists and protesters. Almost every single demonstration since the election has been illegal and the basiji and the police have made it abundantly clear on whose side the law is. Yet, it is clear that Rafsanjani wants to preserve, not overthrow the Islamic Republic.

Khatami echoes the sentiment of Rafsanjani, in his call for a referendum on the elections:

“I state openly that reliance upon the people’s vote and the staging of a legal referendum is the only way for the system to emerge from the current crisis.”

Khamanei on Monday put out a rather different statement:

“The political elite should maintain great vigilance because they currently face a significant challenge; their failure to rise to this challenge will lead to their collapse.”

Khamanei’s message is: reform and you will be crushed. He also warned that disturbing security is “the biggest vice” – a reference to the revolutionary potential of the movement. Thus, the impasse of the Islamic Republic continues. Yet, the ground appears to be shifting towards the reformers.

Repression did not lead to the crushing of the protests. Rather the brutality which the peaceful protests encountered heightened the anger of the people. The protests were smaller but they became more bitter and the determination of the protesters to stand and fight the security forces grew.

Demonstration in Tehran, July 17. Photo by .faramarzDemonstration in Tehran, July 17. Photo by .faramarzTwelve days ago we wrote:

“The numbers were not as big as they were a few weeks ago. But the most striking feature of this movement is that is happening at all. After all the brutal repression, the savage beatings, the shooting and arrests, the fact that thousands of people are prepared to come out and protest tells us something very significant: that people are beginning to lose their fear.” (Iran: The defiance continues)

On Monday last week, a wave of strikes broke out in Kurdistan with widespread protests, particularly in Saqez. This was at least the second such movement in the Kurdish areas.

The masses, far from being deterred by the repression are increasingly openly showing their defiance. They are losing their fear of the repressive apparatus of the state. This is the background to what happened last Friday.

The rift in the ruling elite grows with the confidence of the masses. The failure of repression has strengthened the reformist wing, allowing a prominent reformer, Rafsanjani, to hold Friday prayers. The Assembly of Qom Seminary Scholars and Researchers also came out against the government last week. This further emboldens the masses, who, rightly, see the days of the regime as being numbered.

Injured protester outside of Tehran University, July 17. Photo by .faramarzInjured protester outside of Tehran University, July 17. Photo by .faramarzThe people came out on Friday en masse. Emboldened by Rafsanjani’s speech, they proceeded to once again take over the streets of Teheran and send the basiji and police running. For a while it even seemed as though the state television channel might be taken over as protesters moved towards the building undeterred by the security forces. Reports came in during Friday of police refusing to fight the protesters and disobeying orders. 36 army officers, including two generals, were arrested in the morning before Rafsanjani’s sermon because they had planned to attend the sermon in uniform – showing the discontent with the regime that is brewing within the ranks of the army itself. For a long time, the weakness of the regime has been obvious in its use of the basiji instead of the army or the police to do the dirty work. Even the Revolutionary Guard seems to be unreliable and have been used selectively.

The reformers have now been given a new lease on life. They could topple the regime but they are hesitating and are unwilling to take the final step. That is because they are part and parcel of this same regime. Their main concern is to hold back the movement, control it, and channel it.

The logic of the situation is the same as that which existed in 1979. The entry of the workers onto the arena would transform the situation and it would be the death knell for the regime. Yet, the reformists cling to the Islamic Republic, unwilling to break with it. Instead they try one peculiar protest tactic after another: the latest is to use massive amounts of electricity in order to cause black-outs – a sort of inverse consumer boycott. Clearly, this will lead nowhere and is a step backwards.

Now, the opposition is demanding a referendum on the elections. This is not what is required. In any case, how can anyone guarantee that such a referendum would be more democratic than the recent elections? It would be a step backward even from the point of view of previous demands for new elections. It is clearly being raised as a means of channelling the movement and bringing it back under control.

Security forces at the demonstration on July 21. Photo by .faramarzSecurity forces at the demonstration on July 21. Photo by .faramarzThis Tuesday, on the anniversary of the July 21, 1952 Pro-Mossadeq uprising, when 15,000 protesters marched through Tehran, it was reported that the mainly women demonstrators chanted slogans in favour of Mossadegh, the former president that was overthrown by the CIA in 1953 when he attempted to nationalize the oil. So much for the movement being a CIA coup! This clearly shows in what direction the movement is going.

What is required is a decisive intervention of the working class. The workers must now take the lead and organise discussions that would lead to the calling of a general strike. In the Kurdish areas of Iran strikes have already taken place. Such strikes need to spread to the whole of Iran and build up towards a general strike. Such a movement would finish the regime. What brought down the hated Shah regime was in fact the mass mobilisation of the working class. Once the workers moved the regime was finished.

So far, as an organised force, the workers have not intervened. The workers must come forward with their demands on such issues as payment of all unpaid wages, jobs, trade union rights, etc., but also on the democratic demands of the movement. They should put themselves at the head of the movement with democratic demands, including the demand for the calling of a revolutionary constituent assembly, while at the same time organising their own clandestine workers’ committees. These would eventually lead to the revival of the shoras (workers’ action committees or soviets), which we saw in the late 1970s. Only this will finally bring to an end the hated regime of the mullahs.

Down with Ahmadinejad and Khamenei!

For a general strike!

Long live the Iranian Revolution!

Neda

Thaper Jis Ne Marre, Wu hath ik Kirdar tha!

Aariz Sakina ke na the,Tareekh ka rukhsar tha

“Slaps on the cheeks of Sakeena[daughter of Hossein], were the slaps on the face of history and the one who slapped her, merely a character of an everlasting historical epic.

“At 19:05 June 20th Place: Kargar Ave., at the corner crossing Khosravi St. and Salehi st. A young woman who was standing aside with her father [sic, later identified as her music teacher] watching the protests was shot by a Basij member hiding on the rooftop of a civilian house. He had clear shot at the girl and could not miss her. However, he aimed straight her heart. I am a doctor, so I rushed to try to save her. But the impact of the gunshot was so fierce that the bullet had blasted inside the victim’s chest, and she died in less than 2 minutes. The protests were going on about 1 kilometers away in the main street and some of the protesting crowd were running from tear gass used among them, towards Salehi St. The film is shot by my friend who was standing beside me.” An eye witness [Wiki]

Her last words were, “I’m burning, I’m burning!”.

The words comming out of the camps at Kerbala were “Al atash” Al atash” “Thirst Thirst—”

Neda Soltani, a “non political” student of Islamic philosophy murdered by Islamic Republic

13 fell today at Kerbala-e-Tehran after Yazid threatened the freedom fighters in the sermon. Like the Mullahs who gave fatawa against Hossein on orders of Yazid, the Mullahs of Iran have started killing the freedom fighters. Today people burned down a mosque in Tehran, the capital of Islamic Republic of Iran, the message is clear to the Mullahs any thing which becomes home of reaction against revolution will be burned to ashes. The betrayal of the reformist leadership is becoming clear by the moment but victory is inevitable later if not sooner. The sacred moment when the symbol of ignorance and blind faith was burned it lighted a new epoch of  change in Iran as Iqbal said

Sultani e Jamhoor ka aata he zamana

Jo naqash-e-kuhan tum ku nazer aye mita do

[Epoch of people's rule is inevitable demolish every symbol of  past]

Freedom will come to Iran , Khamenei weather you like it or not.

We strongly protest on crackdown on BBC in Iran by Mullahs. These evil tactics will not stop people. For solidarity we are publishing a report by the BBC on Iran

Long Live the People of Iran

Long Live Iranian Revolution

Shaheryar Ali

Freedom craving ‘fuelling Iran unrest’

By Hugh Sykes
BBC News

Supporters of the leading reformist candidate in Iran's presidential elections, Mir Hossein Mousavi, during a election campaign rally on 23 May

The Iranian leadership is falling into the same trap that their arch-enemy the Shah of Iran fell into in the 1970s.

They are not listening to the people.

After a meeting with Shah Reza Pahlavi, the US ambassador William Sullivan complained: “The king will not listen.”

Soon afterwards, the king had to leave the country, and Ayatollah Khomeini returned from exile in triumph.

Khomeini’s successor as Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, claimed at Friday prayers at Tehran university that “foreign agents” were behind efforts to stage a velvet revolution.

Change

Having spent 10 days in Iran for the 12 June election, that accusation sounds to me like a classic case of blaming the messenger.

We want the freedom to talk, and the freedom to think. We want freedom for our spirit, ok? That’s not very much to ask
Supporter of defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi

There is a velvet rebellion taking place. It is not a revolution yet – but it could evolve into one if the Supreme Leader and his associates do not listen to the people.

I heard with my own ears dozens of peaceful, young Iranians saying they wanted change.

Sixty percent of the population are under 30 years old. They have no memory of the Islamic revolution in 1979. Many of them use the internet and watch satellite TV. Their window on the wider world is irreversibly open.

Many of them simply want peaceful change – and in particular an end to the strict laws that govern personal behaviour in Iran.

Double lives

They want to be able to sing and dance. They wonder why the Iranian leadership continue to ban such expressions of human joy – a ban very similar to the rules imposed on Afghanistan during the Taliban regime.

Iranian woman on the internet

Many young Iranians have a wide window on the world

And of course Iranians do sing and dance. I have been to several parties where the dancing was intense. And so was the drinking, though alcohol is also illegal.

Prohibition does not work. Many Iranians simply lead double lives.

An article in a magazine – available at Tehran news stands when I was there last year – carried the headline: “We are all hypocrites now.”

Many women only cover their heads because they would be arrested if they did not.

Several women I met openly complained about the religious “guidance” police enforcing the female dress code of the chador, or the hijab and “manto” coat.

One young student told me: “I like the hijab. My friend doesn’t like it. I should be free to choose to wear it, and she should be free to choose not to.”

Another woman said: “The hijab is not really the problem. The real problem is that men and women are human beings – they are the same, and they should have equal freedoms.”

Embarrassed

Most of the Iranians I spoke to – even supporters of the president – lamented Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s economic performance over the past four years, especially his failure to control inflation.

Others – including two former Ahmadinejad supporters – told me they could not vote for a man who used a live TV debate to level “undignified” accusations of corruption against former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and his family.

Supporters of Iran's incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Ahmadinejad does not command such support among all Iranians

And others – a significant number – told me they were embarrassed by Mr Ahmadinejad’s goading of the West – especially his hysterical tirades against Israel.

One man referred to a phrase that is often associated with Mr Ahmadinejad, though its exact translation has been disputed.

“Talk about ‘wiping Israel off the map’ is simply not rational. It is not rational,” he repeated several times.

There is widespread opposition to Zionism in Iran – but at the same time most Iranians vehemently deny that they are anti-Semitic.

Two men separately volunteered that they “like and respect” Jewish people. One pointed out that more than 30,000 Jews happily live in Iran, many of them resisting pressure from the Jewish Agency to move to Israel.

The antique dealers who cluster along a small street off Ferdowsi Avenue in central Teheran are nearly all Iranian Jews.

And surrounded by a crowd in a bazaar, another Ahmadinejad opponent said for all to hear: “I believe our uranium enrichment is not only for peaceful purposes. It is bringing us nothing but trouble. And we should stop it.”

What so many Iranians want now is very simple. It’s freedom.

A man in a crowd supporting the main reformist candidate in the election, Mir Hossein Mousavi, said: “We want the freedom to talk, and the freedom to think. We want freedom for our spirit, ok? That’s not very much to ask.”

Violence

Since the election demonstrations began a week ago, the official line has been that “provocateurs” were stirring the violence.

The only people I saw “stirring” violence were the riot police and the volunteer basiji militia.

The day after the election, I watched a small crowd of unarmed, and very courteous Mousavi supporters being charged by baton-wielding riot police.

A few minutes later, I was in a larger crowd of Mousavi supporters who were demonstrating entirely peacefully when they were attacked by Basiji militia driving motorcycles and wildly swinging wooden batons at anyone in their path.

I saw who was stirring the violence on the streets of Tehran. It was not the unarmed demonstrators.

Another accusation from the Iranian leadership is that British “meddling” is behind some of the vote-rigging protests.

You can’t prove a negative, but my sense is that the British are doing all they can to avoid meddling.

When the UK (and America) interfered before, conspiring to overthrow the democratically elected Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq in 1953, the law of unintended consequences came fully into play.

The blowback from that case of meddling is still being felt more than half a century later.

The 1953 coup led to more than two decades of repression under the Shah, and sowed the seeds of the Islamic revolution that sent Mohammed Reza Pahlavi into ignominious exile 26 years later.

I doubt the British want to risk anything like that happening again.

There are no Homosexuals in Iran . Mehmoud Ahmadenijad

I found this very good article here.The author has reviewed the book on history of homosexuality in Iran by the famous Iranian academic Janet Afray , who is a Professor of History and Women Studies at Purdue University and also is the president of International Society of Iranian Scholars.  The book is called “Sexual Politics in Modern Iran”, the deals with the constructions of gender and sexuality over a wider historical period. Her extensive reading of the ancient texts have demonstrated the rather “normal” nature of homosexual relationships in Pre-modern Iran.  She demonstrates that the violent homophobia in Iran is the result of  Western modern influence. I differ with the assertion on Marxist oriented “homophobia” . The fact of the matter is that with The Glorious Russian Revolution of 1917 homosexuality became de-criminalized in one of the first acts by the revolutionary government. The claim of  “well documented condemnation of homosexuality by Marx” unfortunately is not very sound one. Passages from Engels have frequently been quoted by the anti-communists to spread of “myth homophobia inherent in communism”. These passages are usually taken out of context and looked outside the “scientific base” of that time to condemn Engels. The Homosexual Liberation Movement always had a strong Marxist element. The Marxist social democratic parties of Germany and Europe were the first to show sensitivity to homosexual cause and the later Gay Liberation Movement always had a strong Marxist element. The Stalinist regime reversed a lot of  Leninist reforms especially those regarding sexual freedoms and women rights and restored the “family”. These crimes should not be attributed to Marx and the Marxists. Anyway the article is very good and i hope you like it

Shaheryar Ali

IRAN’S HIDDEN HOMOSEXUAL HISTORY

Doug Ireland

When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made his infamous claim at a September 2007 Columbia University appearance that “”In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country,” the world laughed at the absurdity of this pretense.

Now, a forthcoming book by a leading Iranian scholar in exile, which details both the long history of homosexuality in that nation and the origins of the campaign to erase its traces, not only provides a superlative reply to Ahmadinejad, but demonstrates forcefully that political homophobia was a Western import to a culture in which same-sex relations were widely tolerated and frequently celebrated for well over a thousand years.

“Sexual Politics in Modern Iran,” to be published at the end of next month by Cambridge University Press, is a stunningly researched history and analysis of the evolution of gender and sexuality that will provide a transcendent tool both to the vibrant Iranian women’s movement today fighting the repression of the ayatollahs and to Iranian same-sexers hoping for liberation from a theocracy that condemns them to torture and death.

Its author, Janet Afary, president of the International Society of Iranian Scholars, is a professor of history and women’s studies at Purdue University who has already published several authoritative works on Iranian sexual politics, notably the revealing and award-winning “Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islam” (2005), in which she already demonstrated a remarkable sympathy for gay and lesbian people.

In her new book, Afary’s extensive section on pre-modern Iran, documented by a close reading of ancient texts, portrays the dominant form of same-sex relations as a highly-codified “status-defined homosexuality,” in which an older man – presumably the active partner in sex – acquired a younger partner, or amrad.

Shah Abbas and Wine Boy. Louvre

Shah Abbas and Wine Boy. Louvre

Afary demonstrates how, in this period, “male homoerotic relations in Iran were bound by rules of courtship such as the bestowal of presents, the teaching of literary texts, bodybuilding and military training, mentorship, and the development of social contacts that would help the junior partner’s career. Sometimes men exchanged vows, known as brotherhood sigehs [a form of contractual temporary marriage, lasting from a few hours to 99 years, common among heterosexuals] with homosocial or homosexual overtones.

“These relationships were not only about sex, but also about cultivating affection between the partners, placing certain responsibilities on the man with regard to the future of the boy. Sisterhood sigehs involving lesbian practices were also common in Iran. A long courtship was important in these relations. The couple traded gifts, traveled together to shrines, and occasionally spent the night together. Sigeh sisters might exchange vows on the last few days of the year, a time when the world ‘turned upside down,’ and women were granted certain powers over men.”

Examples of the codes governing same-sex relations were to be found in the “Mirror for Princes genre of literature (andarz nameh) [which] refers to both homosexual and heterosexual relations. Often written by fathers for sons, or viziers for sultans, these books contained separate chapter headings on the treatment of male companions and of wives.”

One such was the Qabus Nameh (1082-1083), in which a father advises a son: “As between women and youths, do not confine your inclinations to either sex; thus you may find enjoyment from both kinds without either of the two becoming inimical to you… During the summer let your desires incline toward youths, and during the winter towards women.”

Afary dissects how “classical Persian literature (twelfth to fifteenth centuries)…overflowed with same-sex themes (such as passionate homoerotic allusions, symbolism, and even explicit references to beautiful young boys.)” This was true not only of the Sufi masters of this classical period but of “the poems of the great twentieth-century poet Iraj Mirza (1874-1926)… Classical poets also celebrated homosexual relationships between kings and their pages.”

Afary also writes that “homosexuality and homoerotic expressions were embraced in numerous other public spaces beyond the royal court, from monasteries and seminaries to taverns, military camps, gymnasiums, bathhouses, and coffeehouses… Until the mid-seventeenth century, male houses of prostitution (amrad khaneh) were recognized, tax-paying establishments.”

While Afary explores the important role of class in same-sex relations, she also illuminates how “Persian Sufi poetry, which is consciously erotic as well as mystical, also celebrated courtship rituals between [men] of more or less equal status… The bond between lover and beloved was… based on a form of chivalry (javan mardi). Love led one to higher ethical ideals, but love also constituted a contract, wherein the lover and the beloved had specific obligations and responsibilities to one another, and the love that bound them both… Sufi men were encouraged to use homoerotic relations as a pathway to spiritual love.”

Unmistakably lesbian sigeh courtship rituals, which continued from the classical period into the twentieth century, were also codified: “Tradition dictated that one [woman] who sought another as ‘sister’ approached a love broker to negotiate the matter. The broker took a tray of sweets to the prospective beloved. In the middle of the tray was a carefully placed dildo or doll made of wax or leather. If the beloved agreed to the proposal, she threw a sequined white scarf (akin to a wedding veil) over the tray… If she was not interested, she threw a black scarf on the tray before sending it back.”

As late as the last half of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th, “Iranian society remained accepting of many male and female homoerotic practices… Consensual and semi-open pederastic relations between adult men and amrads were common within various sectors of society.” What Afary terms a “romantic bisexuality” born in the classical period remained prevalent at court and among elite men and women, and “a form of serial love (‘eshq-e mosalsal) was commonly practiced [in which] their love could shift back and forth from girl to boy and back to girl.”

In the court of Naser al-Din Shah, who ruled Persia from 1848 to 1896, keeping boy concubines was still an acceptable practice, and the shah himself (in addition to his wives and harem) had a young male lover, Malijak, whom he “loved more than anyone else.” In his memoirs, Malijak recalled proudly, “the king’s love for me reached the point where it is impossible for me to write about it… [He] held me in his arms and kissed me as if he were kissing one of his great beloveds.”

In a lengthy section of her book entitled “Toward a Westernized Modernity,” Afary demonstrates how the trend toward modernization which emerged during the Constitutional Revolution of 1906 and which gave the Persian monarchy its first parliament was heavily influenced by concepts harvested from the West.

One of her most stunning revelations is how an Azeri-language newspaper edited and published in the Russian Caucuses, Molla Nasreddin (or MN, which appeared from 1906 to 1931) influenced this Iranian Revolution with a “significant new discourse on gender and sexuality,” sharing Marx’s well-documented contempt for homosexuals. With an editorial board that embraced Russian social democratic concepts, including women’s rights, MN was also “the first paper in the Shi’i Muslim world to endorse normative heterosexuality,” echoing Marx’s well-documented contempt for homosexuality. Afary writes that “this illustrated satirical paper, which circulated among Iranian intellectuals and ordinary people alike, was enormously popular in the region because of its graphic cartoons.”

MN conflated homosexuality and pedophilia, and attacked clerical teachers and leaders for “molesting young boys,” played upon feelings of “contempt” for passive homosexuals, suggested that elite men who kept amrad concubines “had a vested interested in maintaining the (male) homosocial public spaces where semi-covert pederasty was tolerated,” and “mocked the rites of exchanging brotherhood vows before a mollah and compared it to a wedding ceremony.” It was in this way that a discourse of political homophobia developed in Europe, which insisted that only heterosexuality could be the norm, was introduced into Iran.

MN‘s attacks on homosexuality “would shape Iranian debates on sexuality for the next century,” and it “became a model for several Iranian newspapers of the era,” which echoed its attacks on the conservative clergy and leadership for homosexual practices. In the years that followed, “Iranian revolutionaries commonly berated major political figures for their sexual transgressions,” and “revolutionary leaflets accused adult men of having homosexual sex with other adult men, ‘of thirty-year-olds propositioning fifty-year-olds and twenty-year-olds propositioning forty-year-olds, right in front of the Shah.’ Some leaflets repeated the old allegation that major political figures had been amrads in their youth.”

Subsequently, “leading constitutionalists enthusiastically joined the campaign against homosexuality,” writes Afary, noting that “the influential journal Kaveh (1916-1921), published in exile in Berlin and edited by the famous constitutionalist Hasan Taqizadeh, had led the movement of opinion against homosexuality… Their notion of modernization now included the normalization of heterosexual eros and the abandonment of all homosexual practices and even inclinations.”

When Reza Kahn overthrew the monarchy’s Qajar dynasty and made himself shah in 1925, he ushered in a new wave of reforms and modernization that included attempts to outlaw homosexuality entirely and a ferocious – ultimately successful – assault on classical Persian poetry. Iraj Mirza, previously known for his homoerotic poems, “joined other leading political figures of this period in encouraging compulsory heterosexuality.” These politicians and intellectuals insisted that “true patriotism required switching one’s sexual orientation from boys to women… Other intellectuals and educators pressed for the elimination of poems with homosexual themes from school textbooks.”

Leading this crusade was a famous historian and prolific journalist, Ahmad Kasravi, “who helped shape many cultural and educational policies during the 1930s and 1940s.” Kasravi founded a nationalist movement, Pak Dini (Purity of Religion), which developed a broad following. An admirer of MN, Kasravi preached that “homosexuality was a measure of cultural backwardness,” that Sufi poets of homoeroticism led “parasitic” lives, and that their queer poetry “was dangerous and had

Youth and Suitors

Youth and Suitors

to be eliminated.”

Kasravi’s Pak Dini movement “went so far as to institute a festival of book burning, held on winter solstice. Books deemed harmful and amoral were thrown into a bonfire in an event that seemed to echo the Nazi and Soviet-style notions of eliminating ‘degenerate’ art.” Eventually, Prime Minister Mahmoud Jam, who held office from 1935 to 1939, acceded to Kasravi’s demand that homoerotic poems be banned entirely from daily newspapers.

Kasravi “based his opposition to the homoeroticism of classical poetry on several assumptions. He expected the young generation to study Western sciences in order to rebuild the nation, and he regarded Sufi poetry as a dangerous diversion. As preposterous as it might sound, Kasravi also argued that the revival of Persian poetry was a grand conspiracy concocted by British and German Orientalists to divert the nation’s youth from the revolutionary legacy of the Constitutional Revolution and to encourage… immoral pursuits.”

Afary adds sorrowfully that “most supporters of women’s rights sympathized with Kasravi’s project because he encouraged the cultivation of monogamous, heterosexual love in marriage… In this period, neither Kasravi nor feminists distinguished between rape or molestation of boys and consensual same-sex relations between adults.”

The expansion of radio, television, and print media in the 1940s – including a widely read daily, Parcham, published from 1941 by Kasravi’s Pak Dini movement – resulted in a nationwide discussion about the evils of pederasty and, ultimately, in significant official censorship of literature. References to same-sex love and the love of boys were eliminated in textbooks and even in new editions of classical poetry. “Classical poems were now illustrated by miniature paintings celebrating heterosexual, rather than homosexual, love and students were led to believe that the love object was always a woman, even when the text directly contradicted that assumption,” Arafy writes.

In the context of a triumphant censorship that erased from the popular collective memory the enormous literary and cultural heritage of what Afary terms “the ethics of male love” in the classical Persian period, it is hardly surprising as Afary earlier noted in “Foucault and the Iranian Revolution” that the virulence of the current Iranian regime’s anti-homosexual repression stems in part from the role homosexuality played in the 1979 revolution that brought the Ayatollah Khomeini and his followers to power.

In that earlier work, she and her co-author, Kevin B. Anderson, wrote: “There is… a long tradition in nationalist movements of consolidating power through narratives that affirm patriarchy and compulsory heterosexuality, attributing sexual abnormality and immorality to a corrupt ruling elite that is about to be overthrown and/or is complicit with foreign imperialism. Not all the accusations leveled against the [the deposed shah of Iran, and his] Pahlevi family and their wealthy supporters stemmed from political and economic grievances. A significant portion of the public anger was aimed at their ‘immoral’ lifestyle. There were rumors that a gay lifestyle was rampant at the court. The shah’s prime minister, Amir Abbas Hoveyda, was said to have been a homosexual. The satirical press routinely lampooned him for his meticulous attire, the purple orchid in his lapel, and his supposed marriage of convenience. The shah himself was rumored to be bisexual. There were reports that a close male friend of the shah from Switzerland, a man who knew him from their student days in that country, routinely visited him.

“But the greatest public outrage was aimed at two young, elite men with ties to the court who held a mock wedding ceremony. Especially to the highly religious, this was public confirmation that the Pahlevi house was corrupted with the worst kinds of sexual transgressions, that the shah was no longer master of his own house. These rumors contributed to public anger, to a sense of shame and outrage, and ultimately were used by the Islamists in their calls for a revolution.”

Soon after coming to power in 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini established the death penalty for homosexuality.

In “Sexual Politics in Modern Iran,” Afary sums up the situation for homosexuals under the Ahmadinejad regime in this way: “While the shari’a [Islamic law] requires either the actual confession of the accused or four witnesses who observed them in flagrante delicto, today’s authorities look only for medical evidence of penetration in homosexual relationships. Upon finding such evidence, they pronounce the death sentence. Because execution of men on charges of homosexuality has prompted international outrage, the state has tended to compound these charges with others, such as rape and pedophilia. Continual use of these tactics has undermined the status of Iran’s gay community and attenuated public sympathy for them. Meanwhile, many Iranians believe that pedophilia is rampant in the religious cities of Qum and Mashad, including in the seminaries, where temporary marriage and prostitution are also pervasive practices.” (Full disclosure: in her section on gays in today’s Iran, Afary cites my reporting several times and thanks me in the book’s acknowledgements for sharing materials and insights with her.)

In this necessarily truncated summary of some of Afary’s most significant and nuanced findings and revelations with respect to homosexuality, it is impossible to do justice to the full sweep and scope of “Sexual Politics in Iran,” the larger part of which is devoted to the role of Iranian women, and to their struggles for freedom which began in the 19th century. But as Afary herself writes, “[F]or a very long time even talking about the pervasive homoeroticism of the region’s premodern culture had been labeled ‘Orientalism’… [but] increasingly I found that one could not simply talk about gender and women’s rights, particularly rights within marriage, without addressing the subject of same-sex relations.”

This she has done with uncommon sensitivity, intellectual rigor, engagement, subtlety, and skill.

And for that, both Iranian lesbians and gays and feminists in that nation owe Afary an enormous debt of gratitude, as do all of us concerned with sexual liberation for everyone worldwide

When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made his infamous claim at a September 2007 Columbia University appearance that “”In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country,” the world laughed at the absurdity of this pretense.

Now, a forthcoming book by a leading Iranian scholar in exile, which details both the long history of homosexuality in that nation and the origins of the campaign to erase its traces, not only provides a superlative reply to Ahmadinejad, but demonstrates forcefully that political homophobia was a Western import to a culture in which same-sex relations were widely tolerated and frequently celebrated for well over a thousand years.

“Sexual Politics in Modern Iran,” to be published at the end of next month by Cambridge University Press, is a stunningly researched history and analysis of the evolution of gender and sexuality that will provide a transcendent tool both to the vibrant Iranian women’s movement today fighting the repression of the ayatollahs and to Iranian same-sexers hoping for liberation from a theocracy that condemns them to torture and death.

Its author, Janet Afary, president of the International Society of Iranian Scholars, is a professor of history and women’s studies at Purdue University who has already published several authoritative works on Iranian sexual politics, notably the revealing and award-winning “Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islam” (2005), in which she already demonstrated a remarkable sympathy for gay and lesbian people.

In her new book, Afary’s extensive section on pre-modern Iran, documented by a close reading of ancient texts, portrays the dominant form of same-sex relations as a highly-codified “status-defined homosexuality,” in which an older man – presumably the active partner in sex – acquired a younger partner, or amrad.

Afary demonstrates how, in this period, “male homoerotic relations in Iran were bound by rules of courtship such as the bestowal of presents, the teaching of literary texts, bodybuilding and military training, mentorship, and the development of social contacts that would help the junior partner’s career. Sometimes men exchanged vows, known as brotherhood sigehs [a form of contractual temporary marriage, lasting from a few hours to 99 years, common among heterosexuals] with homosocial or homosexual overtones.

“These relationships were not only about sex, but also about cultivating affection between the partners, placing certain responsibilities on the man with regard to the future of the boy. Sisterhood sigehs involving lesbian practices were also common in Iran. A long courtship was important in these relations. The couple traded gifts, traveled together to shrines, and occasionally spent the night together. Sigeh sisters might exchange vows on the last few days of the year, a time when the world ‘turned upside down,’ and women were granted certain powers over men.”

Examples of the codes governing same-sex relations were to be found in the “Mirror for Princes genre of literature (andarz nameh) [which] refers to both homosexual and heterosexual relations. Often written by fathers for sons, or viziers for sultans, these books contained separate chapter headings on the treatment of male companions and of wives.”

One such was the Qabus Nameh (1082-1083), in which a father advises a son: “As between women and youths, do not confine your inclinations to either sex; thus you may find enjoyment from both kinds without either of the two becoming inimical to you… During the summer let your desires incline toward youths, and during the winter towards women.”

Afary dissects how “classical Persian literature (twelfth to fifteenth centuries)…overflowed with same-sex themes (such as passionate homoerotic allusions, symbolism, and even explicit references to beautiful young boys.)” This was true not only of the Sufi masters of this classical period but of “the poems of the great twentieth-century poet Iraj Mirza (1874-1926)… Classical poets also celebrated homosexual relationships between kings and their pages.”

Afary also writes that “homosexuality and homoerotic expressions were embraced in numerous other public spaces beyond the royal court, from monasteries and seminaries to taverns, military camps, gymnasiums, bathhouses, and coffeehouses… Until the mid-seventeenth century, male houses of prostitution (amrad khaneh) were recognized, tax-paying establishments.”

While Afary explores the important role of class in same-sex relations, she also illuminates how “Persian Sufi poetry, which is consciously erotic as well as mystical, also celebrated courtship rituals between [men] of more or less equal status… The bond between lover and beloved was… based on a form of chivalry (javan mardi). Love led one to higher ethical ideals, but love also constituted a contract, wherein the lover and the beloved had specific obligations and responsibilities to one another, and the love that bound them both… Sufi men were encouraged to use homoerotic relations as a pathway to spiritual love.”

Unmistakably lesbian sigeh courtship rituals, which continued from the classical period into the twentieth century, were also codified: “Tradition dictated that one [woman] who sought another as ‘sister’ approached a love broker to negotiate the matter. The broker took a tray of sweets to the prospective beloved. In the middle of the tray was a carefully placed dildo or doll made of wax or leather. If the beloved agreed to the proposal, she threw a sequined white scarf (akin to a wedding veil) over the tray… If she was not interested, she threw a black scarf on the tray before sending it back.”

As late as the last half of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th, “Iranian society remained accepting of many male and female homoerotic practices… Consensual and semi-open pederastic relations between adult men and amrads were common within various sectors of society.” What Afary terms a “romantic bisexuality” born in the classical period remained prevalent at court and among elite men and women, and “a form of serial love (‘eshq-e mosalsal) was commonly practiced [in which] their love could shift back and forth from girl to boy and back to girl.”

In the court of Naser al-Din Shah, who ruled Persia from 1848 to 1896, keeping boy concubines was still an acceptable practice, and the shah himself (in addition to his wives and harem) had a young male lover, Malijak, whom he “loved more than anyone else.” In his memoirs, Malijak recalled proudly, “the king’s love for me reached the point where it is impossible for me to write about it… [He] held me in his arms and kissed me as if he were kissing one of his great beloveds.”

In a lengthy section of her book entitled “Toward a Westernized Modernity,” Afary demonstrates how the trend toward modernization which emerged during the Constitutional Revolution of 1906 and which gave the Persian monarchy its first parliament was heavily influenced by concepts harvested from the West.

One of her most stunning revelations is how an Azeri-language newspaper edited and published in the Russian Caucuses, Molla Nasreddin (or MN, which appeared from 1906 to 1931) influenced this Iranian Revolution with a “significant new discourse on gender and sexuality,” sharing Marx’s well-documented contempt for homosexuals. With an editorial board that embraced Russian social democratic concepts, including women’s rights, MN was also “the first paper in the Shi’i Muslim world to endorse normative heterosexuality,” echoing Marx’s well-documented contempt for homosexuality. Afary writes that “this illustrated satirical paper, which circulated among Iranian intellectuals and ordinary people alike, was enormously popular in the region because of its graphic cartoons.”

MN conflated homosexuality and pedophilia, and attacked clerical teachers and leaders for “molesting young boys,” played upon feelings of “contempt” for passive homosexuals, suggested that elite men who kept amrad concubines “had a vested interested in maintaining the (male) homosocial public spaces where semi-covert pederasty was tolerated,” and “mocked the rites of exchanging brotherhood vows before a mollah and compared it to a wedding ceremony.” It was in this way that a discourse of political homophobia developed in Europe, which insisted that only heterosexuality could be the norm, was introduced into Iran.

MN‘s attacks on homosexuality “would shape Iranian debates on sexuality for the next century,” and it “became a model for several Iranian newspapers of the era,” which echoed its attacks on the conservative clergy and leadership for homosexual practices. In the years that followed, “Iranian revolutionaries commonly berated major political figures for their sexual transgressions,” and “revolutionary leaflets accused adult men of having homosexual sex with other adult men, ‘of thirty-year-olds propositioning fifty-year-olds and twenty-year-olds propositioning forty-year-olds, right in front of the Shah.’ Some leaflets repeated the old allegation that major political figures had been amrads in their youth.”

Subsequently, “leading constitutionalists enthusiastically joined the campaign against homosexuality,” writes Afary, noting that “the influential journal Kaveh (1916-1921), published in exile in Berlin and edited by the famous constitutionalist Hasan Taqizadeh, had led the movement of opinion against homosexuality… Their notion of modernization now included the normalization of heterosexual eros and the abandonment of all homosexual practices and even inclinations.”

When Reza Kahn overthrew the monarchy’s Qajar dynasty and made himself shah in 1925, he ushered in a new wave of reforms and modernization that included attempts to outlaw homosexuality entirely and a ferocious – ultimately successful – assault on classical Persian poetry. Iraj Mirza, previously known for his homoerotic poems, “joined other leading political figures of this period in encouraging compulsory heterosexuality.” These politicians and intellectuals insisted that “true patriotism required switching one’s sexual orientation from boys to women… Other intellectuals and educators pressed for the elimination of poems with homosexual themes from school textbooks.”

Leading this crusade was a famous historian and prolific journalist, Ahmad Kasravi, “who helped shape many cultural and educational policies during the 1930s and 1940s.” Kasravi founded a nationalist movement, Pak Dini (Purity of Religion), which developed a broad following. An admirer of MN, Kasravi preached that “homosexuality was a measure of cultural backwardness,” that Sufi poets of homoeroticism led “parasitic” lives, and that their queer poetry “was dangerous and had to be eliminated.”

Kasravi’s Pak Dini movement “went so far as to institute a festival of book burning, held on winter solstice. Books deemed harmful and amoral were thrown into a bonfire in an event that seemed to echo the Nazi and Soviet-style notions of eliminating ‘degenerate’ art.” Eventually, Prime Minister Mahmoud Jam, who held office from 1935 to 1939, acceded to Kasravi’s demand that homoerotic poems be banned entirely from daily newspapers.

Kasravi “based his opposition to the homoeroticism of classical poetry on several assumptions. He expected the young generation to study Western sciences in order to rebuild the nation, and he regarded Sufi poetry as a dangerous diversion. As preposterous as it might sound, Kasravi also argued that the revival of Persian poetry was a grand conspiracy concocted by British and German Orientalists to divert the nation’s youth from the revolutionary legacy of the Constitutional Revolution and to encourage… immoral pursuits.”

Afary adds sorrowfully that “most supporters of women’s rights sympathized with Kasravi’s project because he encouraged the cultivation of monogamous, heterosexual love in marriage… In this period, neither Kasravi nor feminists distinguished between rape or molestation of boys and consensual same-sex relations between adults.”

The expansion of radio, television, and print media in the 1940s – including a widely read daily, Parcham, published from 1941 by Kasravi’s Pak Dini movement – resulted in a nationwide discussion about the evils of pederasty and, ultimately, in significant official censorship of literature. References to same-sex love and the love of boys were eliminated in textbooks and even in new editions of classical poetry. “Classical poems were now illustrated by miniature paintings celebrating heterosexual, rather than homosexual, love and students were led to believe that the love object was always a woman, even when the text directly contradicted that assumption,” Arafy writes.

In the context of a triumphant censorship that erased from the popular collective memory the enormous literary and cultural heritage of what Afary terms “the ethics of male love” in the classical Persian period, it is hardly surprising as Afary earlier noted in “Foucault and the Iranian Revolution” that the virulence of the current Iranian regime’s anti-homosexual repression stems in part from the role homosexuality played in the 1979 revolution that brought the Ayatollah Khomeini and his followers to power.

In that earlier work, she and her co-author, Kevin B. Anderson, wrote: “There is… a long tradition in nationalist movements of consolidating power through narratives that affirm patriarchy and compulsory heterosexuality, attributing sexual abnormality and immorality to a corrupt ruling elite that is about to be overthrown and/or is complicit with foreign imperialism. Not all the accusations leveled against the [the deposed shah of Iran, and his] Pahlevi family and their wealthy supporters stemmed from political and economic grievances. A significant portion of the public anger was aimed at their ‘immoral’ lifestyle. There were rumors that a gay lifestyle was rampant at the court. The shah’s prime minister, Amir Abbas Hoveyda, was said to have been a homosexual. The satirical press routinely lampooned him for his meticulous attire, the purple orchid in his lapel, and his supposed marriage of convenience. The shah himself was rumored to be bisexual. There were reports that a close male friend of the shah from Switzerland, a man who knew him from their student days in that country, routinely visited him.

“But the greatest public outrage was aimed at two young, elite men with ties to the court who held a mock wedding ceremony. Especially to the highly religious, this was public confirmation that the Pahlevi house was corrupted with the worst kinds of sexual transgressions, that the shah was no longer master of his own house. These rumors contributed to public anger, to a sense of shame and outrage, and ultimately were used by the Islamists in their calls for a revolution.”

Soon after coming to power in 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini established the death penalty for homosexuality.

In “Sexual Politics in Modern Iran,” Afary sums up the situation for homosexuals under the Ahmadinejad regime in this way: “While the shari’a [Islamic law] requires either the actual confession of the accused or four witnesses who observed them in flagrante delicto, today’s authorities look only for medical evidence of penetration in homosexual relationships. Upon finding such evidence, they pronounce the death sentence. Because execution of men on charges of homosexuality has prompted international outrage, the state has tended to compound these charges with others, such as rape and pedophilia. Continual use of these tactics has undermined the status of Iran’s gay community and attenuated public sympathy for them. Meanwhile, many Iranians believe that pedophilia is rampant in the religious cities of Qum and Mashad, including in the seminaries, where temporary marriage and prostitution are also pervasive practices.” (Full disclosure: in her section on gays in today’s Iran, Afary cites my reporting several times and thanks me in the book’s acknowledgements for sharing materials and insights with her.)

In this necessarily truncated summary of some of Afary’s most significant and nuanced findings and revelations with respect to homosexuality, it is impossible to do justice to the full sweep and scope of “Sexual Politics in Iran,” the larger part of which is devoted to the role of Iranian women, and to their struggles for freedom which began in the 19th century. But as Afary herself writes, “[F]or a very long time even talking about the pervasive homoeroticism of the region’s premodern culture had been labeled ‘Orientalism’… [but] increasingly I found that one could not simply talk about gender and women’s rights, particularly rights within marriage, without addressing the subject of same-sex relations.”

This she has done with uncommon sensitivity, intellectual rigor, engagement, subtlety, and skill.

And for that, both Iranian lesbians and gays and feminists in that nation owe Afary an enormous debt of gratitude, as do all of us concerned with sexual liberation for everyone worldwide

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