Marcelaine's Reviews > Iran Awakening: One Woman's Journey to Reclaim Her Life and Country

Iran Awakening by Shirin Ebadi
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Feb 21, 14


Things I learned:

Americans in general don't completely understand why Iran doesn't like us. When the US facilitated a coup-de-tat to kick Mossadegh out of power and put the shah back into power, it was humiliating to the Iranians and it made the US look hypocritical because supposedly we stand for democracy and freedom and yet in this case the US government put a monarch back in power. And they did this because they wanted to get Iran's oil without paying Iran what it was worth. Then in the Iraq-Iran war the US gave Saddam Hussein a lot of weapons and aid and did nothing to prevent him from using terrible chemical weapons on the Iranian soldiers. So maybe it's not surprising that when the US claims it will stand with Iran if it will stand for democracy, the Iranians don't believe it. That being said, from the book I get the impression that most of the ordinary people of Iran would be happy to get along with the United States, but the government doesn't care what the people think.

Bringing about equality for women in Iran is going to be difficult, and often Western countries do more harm than good when they try to help. The most change in Iran has come about because of Iranian women who have had the courage to stand up for equality and justice even though it puts them in danger.

The oppression of women in Iran has frequently bordered on absurd. For example, there was one occasion when the author (about age 40 at the time) was going skiing with her daughters and was stopped by the police, who refused to let her go until she called her mother to verify that she had permission to go skiing. But in too many other cases, it has been ridiculously unjust. There was a family whose daughter was raped and murdered and they were never able to see the murderers receive their just execution because the government required them to pay to fund the blood money for the execution. They sold everything and went completely broke and still could not raise the funds. It's a heartbreaking story. It's a very uphill battle to convince the Iranian government to make policy changes that protect women's rights.

I would highly recommend this book to people who want to have a better understanding of what is going on in Iran. I think things are gradually getting better, but we need to recognize how much work and sacrifice it takes to bring about social change and give Iranians the time to do it rather than expecting them to achieve some Westernized ideal overnight. FYI, the author doesn't really talk about the nuclear weapons program because that's not her purpose.
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