Iran arrests family of outspoken U.S. Iranian women's rights activist

Alinejad currently works as a journalist, author, activist, correspondent for VOA Persian Service and contributor to other Persian outlets.

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September 27, 2019 13:22
2 minute read.
Iran arrests family of outspoken U.S. Iranian women's rights activist

Masih Alinejad, Iranian journalist and women's rights activist, speaks on stage at the Women In The World Summit in New York, U.S, April 12, 2019. (photo credit: REUTERS)

An award winning dissident outspoken Iranian women's rights activists, Masih Alinejad, reported that the Islamic Republic of Ministry of Intelligence arrested her brother on Wednesday.

Alinejad currently works as a journalist, author, activist, correspondent for VOA Persian Service and contributor to other Persian outlets, according to Radio Farda.

"We have no information about my brother's whereabouts. My mother and the family members of my brother's wife are deeply worried," Alinejad said Wednesday, adding that, "They have been threatened to remain silent, or else."

More notably, Alinejad is the founder of the anti-hijab protests known as "White Wednesday" and "My Stealthy Freedom."

White Wednesdays, is a popular campaign which urges women to share pictures and videos of themselves on social media every Wednesday, wearing white headscarves or white pieces of clothing in protest of compulsory veiling; My Stealthy Freedom, encourages women from Iran to post online pictures of themselves without headscarves [to show opposition to] forced veiling.

Intelligence forces pillaged their family home, confiscated all of her brother's electronic devices, blindfolded him and then took him off to prison, according to Alinejad.

"President Rouhani talks of hope and peace at the United Nations, and yet he is terrorizing people inside the country," says Alinejad. "The Islamic Republic acts as a hostage-taker and at the same time wants to be trusted by the rest of the world. My brother was not involved in any political activity, and yet he has been detained just to put pressure on me."

In the summer of 2018, Alinejad penned a New York Times op-ed in which Iranian officials allegedly pressured her family to denounce her work on Iranian-run state media outlets - the Iranian government persuaded her sister into making some of the public denouncements against her hijab protest initiatives.

Iranian authorities have also raided the house of Alinejad's ex-husband, arresting his brother Hadi Lofti as well as his sister Leila Lofti - considering her ex-husband lives outside the Islamic republic, the other family members were arrested.

"My ex-husband has edited some of my documentaries, but his family members have no connection with me," Alinejad said.

"The state's systematic attack on activists' families reveals the inhumane tactics they use to muzzle criticism of state policies”, said the executive director of the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), Hadi Ghaemi. "Targeting family members is expected from mafias, not law-abiding governments."

According to Ghaemi, this is just the start of this dissident crackdown, after tensions over state security have risen with the tide of tensions in the Middle East, between Iran, surrounding countries and western allies.

"They've expanded their campaign beyond their borders and will continue to do so for as long as countries that have leverage on Iran refuse to register their strong condemnation," he added.

Alinejad, claims this behavior reflects "terrorism," "violence" and the "taking of hostages" - and claims the Islamic Republic is a messenger of "terror" not "peace" - adding that the Republics attempts of quieting dissidents has not worked in over four decades and that it is time for the country to adopt a new approach.


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