Earlier this summer, Nina Saikhali Moradi, an Iranian politician, symbolized our hopes for a burgeoning women’s civil rights movement in the Middle East by winning an election bid to become an alternate to the Qazvin City Council. Unfortunately, the win was short-lived.
As the first alternate, Moradi was poised to fill a recently-vacated council seat when religious conservatives barred her from office, claiming that her election campaign broke an Islamic code that governs propriety. In one accusation, her attackers suspected her of using a photo on her campaign signs as a distraction to get people to vote for her. A senior Qazvin official has also said publically, “We don’t want a catwalk model on the council.” But, you guys, the “official” reason is that she didn’t get her credentials approved (*WINK*).
The 27-year-old architecture grad student received nearly 10,000 votes by running a smart, independent campaign on the platform “Young Ideas for a Young Future.” Yet, it would seem that Iranian officials aren’t willing to accept that gender equality is, in fact, part of that future. Though her credentials were initially approved and she did not break any campaign laws during the election, many believe that Moradi was unofficially disqualified for being both pretty and young. Her campaign stood out for being more hip than the rest of the candidates and its headquarters had become an active hub for her youthful supporters— a threatening sight for the older Iranian politicians who grasp so firmly the misogynistic principles of the past.
Since this scandal broke, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran and countless other supporters have put pressure on the council to reverse its decision. Some suspect that the reason why Moradi was even allowed to run the first place was simply because the Iranian officials didn’t think she would actually get enough votes to become elected, which speaks to a different kind of problem.
My guess? They’re scared. These officials realize that there are plenty more Moradis where she came from and this move was a scrambling attempt to hold onto the power that they realize is slipping from their grasp. Moradi had it right when she campaigned on the idea that a young person is the best representative for Qazvin youth. By attempting to block her ascension into politics, they just proved her point.
Contributed by Sabrina Willard