The Closing of Another Progressive Iranian Voice

Margot Badran in Al Ahram (via

Zanan (Women) has been at the forefront in debates on women and gender within the framework of an egalitarian interpretation of Islam and for examining women’s experience in Iran and their contribution to society. From the start Zanan has had a dual existence: in Iran and in the world. Zanan ‘s news and views spun around cyberspace so fast it was clear it was onto something: gender equality and gender justice within Islam– exactly where much of the world thought it was missing. Now Zanan has been summarily shut down by authorities in Iran.

Zanan was founded in 1992 by Shahla Sherkat, a seasoned journalist and magazine editor. From 1982 she had served as editor of Zan-e Ruz (Today’s Woman) a publication of the state-run Kayhan publishing house before being pushed out in 1991 along with a number of others. They went on to found and write in independent publications and came to be known as the new religious intellectuals. Sherkat, the only woman among them, had already begun to bristle at Zan-e Ruz ‘s conservative line (that she had been originally hired to develop). By the time of her dismissal she was eager to start her own independent journal on women and gender. She pulled together, marshaled minimal resources, and created Zanan.