A professor in Iran says women should take charge of political and social change in the country, because they can succeed with fortitude, without violence.
The commentary by Esfahan University academic Mohsen Ranani, published by reformist newspaper Etemad in Tehran on Saturday, has met with angry reactions from Iran's conservative press.
Ranani's social commentary was also carried by many Iranian websites and quoted by dozens of Iranians on social media as a serious critique of the social and political situation in Iran. The commentary was taken from a speech by Ranani in Esfahan last week.
The academic said that the Iranian government pretends not to hear what critics and intellectuals say about the country's problems while officials openly call them "social germs" in their speeches. As a result, it appears that intellectuals have nothing more to say.
This, he said, has left only those who want regime change and pseudo-artists who crack jokes about everything, as the only groups who can win the hearts and minds of young Iranians.
The academic said young Iranians can either choose to be like Rouhollah Zam, the rebel journalist who was abducted abroad and hanged in Iran in 2020, or they can be careless and ignorant like Amir Tatallou, the controversial singer and a rebel in his own right who cooperated with Ebrahim Raisi's election campaign in 2017 but was later jailed and finally fled to Turkey where thousands of young Iranians go to attend his concerts.
Women activists in Iran who are either in prison or facing prosecution.
Under these circumstances, the only hope for a rational and ethical change in Iran can be pinned on Iranian women, Ranani said, adding that they are going forward step by step and taking back the self-confidence and rights men took from them in the course of history.
He suggested that Iran's male activists should give their place to women who act, instead of writing articles or delivering speeches. Ranani opined that women do not stage revolutions or riots as Iranian men did in the 20th century upheavals. He named several prominent female activists currently in Iranian prisons.
Ranani said that Iranian women will impose change on Iranian men, and traditional patriarchal government. "Their weapon is silence and calm resistance. They are armed with non-violent steadfastness," Ranani said, adding that "No power can resist against this silent resistance."
The IRGC-linked Javan newspaper said in a commentary that the academic was simply angry because the government has ignored him and accused Etemad of being a "radical media outlet" that has gone beyond the frontiers of press freedom in the Islamic Republic. Ironically the commentary in Javan was authored by a woman, Kobra Asupar.
Asupar also said that Ranani's comment about Iranian youths having no role models apart from Zam and Tatallou was an invalid and irrelevant generalization. About his comments regarding women, Asupar said that Iranian women played a major part in the Islamic revolution in 1979. So, Ranani cannot say that "good women have supported a bad revolution!"
Meanwhile, hardline daily Kayhan also lashed out at the academic, attacking his background as a reformist, claiming that reformists have plundered public resources and now pretend to be innocent. The Kayhan then blamed the reformists for all of Iran's problems and mentioned former President Hassan Rouhani and former Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri's brothers' involvement in corruption cases to prove its case and said that Ranani should be accountable for his support of reformist government's "harmful" economic policies.
The Kayhan called Ranani's commentary "an outrageous shift from plundering the people's resources to claiming to be following their demands."