Muslim women with headscarves wait after Friday prayers on Skalitzer Strasse in Berlin September 19, 2014.

German Human Rights Official Who Snubbed Iranian Dissident Is Pro-Hijab

Saturday, 12/02/2023
Benjamin Weinthal

Benjamin Weinthal is a writing fellow at the Middle East Forum.

The German human rights commissioner who rebuffed Iranian female dissidents on Thursday, reportedly views the hijab as a form of emancipation for women.

The Iranian dissident, Masih Alinejad, pulled the plug on a meeting with the federal human rights commissioner, Luise Amtsberg, because Amtsberg did not wish to publicize the substance of the discussion.

The German magazine Stern reported in 2017 that the Green party politician had said she learned the head scarf can be a sign of emancipation, adding “We forget that sometimes.”

Amtsberg wrote her master’s thesis on “Feminism in Islam: Using the example of the Palestinian women’s movement.”

Lawdan Bazargan, a California-based Iranian-American political and human rights activist, told Iran International, “The hijab is an ideology, and like any ideological belief, it is linked to 'interests' and 'power.’ The hijab serves a dual function; it privileges veiled women in Islamic societies while also helping to reproduce the system's inherent patriarchy."

Bazargan, who is currently campaigning to secure the dismissal of Oberlin College’s Mohammad Jafar Mahallati, Iran’s former ambassador to the UN, added, “Ultimately, the hijab humiliates and disempowers women in society. It is shameful for a European woman, born and raised in a democratic country with liberal values, to idolize a symbol that oppresses millions of women, acting like a chain around their necks, suffocating them.”

Alinejad has long campaigned against the hijab. The Islamic Republic of Iran imposed the mandatory hijab on women after the 1979 revolution in 1981.

Iran International reported last week that the clerical regime has impounded the cars of people who violate the rules of the mandatory Hijab. In 2022, after dozens of Iranian women unveiled in public and sent their videos to Alinejad in New York, the clerical regime said women can be sentenced up to 10 years in jail for sending Alinjead the footage.

The outrage over Amtsberg’s attempt to silence the Iranian dissidents in Berlin has shined a new spotlight on the Green party’s overly cordial relationship with the Islamic Republic.

Amtsberg’s Green party has a long tradition of holding public meetings with Iranian regime officials and politicians who have denied the Holocaust, defended the use of stoning for adultery, and engaged in killing Iranians.

Bundestag Vice President Claudia Roth (Green Party), Dagmar Wöhrl (Christian Social Union party) in Tehran

In 2019, Germany’s best-selling newspaper, Bild, published a series of news articles and an editorial titled “Shame on the Bundestag” that exposed the then-Green party Bundestag vice president Claudia Roth’s enthusiastic greeting of the former speaker of the Iran’s ersatz parliament, Ali Larijani.

Larijani defended former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s denial of the Holocaust at the 2009 Munich Security Conference.

Roth is currently Germany’s cultural minister and, in 2010, met in Tehran with the former speaker's brother, Mohammad-Javad Larijani, who defended the stoning of people who committed adultery. Mohammad-Javad Larijani served as the head of the Iranian Human Rights Council. A year before Roth’s meeting, he denied the Holocaust at a German foreign ministry-sponsored event in Berlin held close to the Holocaust memorial.

Roth courted Manouchehr Mottaki who, while foreign minister, delivered a key speech at Tehran’s 2006 Holocaust denial conference.

The largely pro-Iran politician, Roth, also high-fived then-Iran ambassador to Germany, Reza Sheikh Attar, at the 2013 Munich Security Conference. Iranian Kurdish dissidents accused Attar of carrying out a massacre of Kurds during his tenure as governor of Kurdistan and West Azerbaijan provinces between 1980-1985.

The German foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, has also faced intense criticism from German opposition politicians and Iranian dissidents for her dovish posture toward Tehran. Baerbock refuses to sanction the IRGC as a terrorist organization. She claims to practice a “feminist foreign policy” but her inaction toward the IRGC—a US-designated terrorist organization dedicated to enforcing the mandatory hijab—has sparked criticism from Alinejad and other Iranian dissidents.


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