Iran finds its Nelson Mandela

Abbas Milani in The New Republic:

TNR%20mousavi%20arcs%20final Traditional Iranian husbands, the sort found in the highest ranks of the Islamic Republic, sometimes refer to their wives as “the house.” For them, this is not just an expression of their understanding of gender relations. It is viewed as a necessary euphemism, vital protection for a woman’s honor. The mere uttering of her name, after all, might compromise her chastity.

It is telling, therefore, that Mir Hossein Mousavi courted and eventually married Zahra Rahnavard. When they met, in 1969, Rahnavard was already an acclaimed pioneer in the field of Islamic feminism, as well as a sculptor and critic and all-around star of the intellectual scene that throbbed in Tehran at that time. But it was her political theories that vaulted her farthest: Rahnavard proffered the kind of critique of patriarchy percolating in the Western academy at the time. Yet she didn’t join her sisters in the West in launching an all-out assault on tradition. Yes, Islam has misogynistic elements, she argued in her speeches. But those misogynistic elements are not necessarily native to Islam. They only prevail because of the male domination of the faith.

More here.