Published on September 3rd, 2013 | by Joanna Paraszczuk


Iran Feature: Rouhani Versus Supreme Leader On Women’s Rights

As President Rouhani took to social media to promote his policies on gender equality, the Supreme Leader set the record straight regarding his own views.

Over the past week, President Rouhani has used his English-language Twitter account to express and promote his administration’s stance on women’s rights. The President began by tweeting about his appointment of Marzieh Afkham as Iran’s first female Foreign Ministry spokesperson.

On August 29, Rouhani tweeted:

The President then added:

On Monday, Rouhani took this theme further, praising Iranian women for their accomplishments, even using the hashtag #GenderEquality:

However, the Supreme Leader — perhaps feeling that the President was taking the limelight on such an important and controversial issue — could not stay silent.

On Monday, Ayatollah Khamenei took to Twitter to promote his own views on the matter, and to drive home the point that he has been talking about women’s issues for some years now, by repeating a quote he made back in 1998:

The Supreme Leader linked to a Facebook post his office has made, which sets out his opinions more fully in both Persian and English. Khamenei also includes an illustration, to help drive the point home:

It is not true that the wife should obey the husband in every occasion, no. There’s no such thing in Islam or Sharia law. That “men are in charge of women” [as said by the holy Quran] does not mean that a woman should obey her husband in all affairs. No! Or according to some Europeanized individuals carried away by European [standards], acting worse than them, the woman should control everything and the man should obey her. This is also wrong. A couple is about two companions, two friends. Sometimes the husband should back down, sometimes the wife. Sometimes the man should give up on his interests sometime the woman should give up on hers, so that the two can get along and live a life together.

As Rouhani continued to tweet his messages about women’s rights on Monday, the Supreme Leader took to Twitter again on Tuesday — in English this time — to ensure that it is absolutely clear who is in charge. While Rouhani used more Westernized language to talk about women —referring to their professional accomplishments and showing an image of women graduates — the Supreme Leader preferred a more old-fashioned approach, comparing women to lovely, yet delicate, flowers. How could men, he asks, treat a delightful flower oppressively?

But what of educated women? Women with professional jobs? The Supreme Leader is quite clear on this point: those women (even politicians) are also “flowers”:

Women do have some autonomy, however:

The Supreme Leader warns about “Westernization” — women should avoid it:

Khamenei closes by reminding his readers of his main point: that men and women in a relationship should be friends:

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About the Author

Joanna Paraszczuk is EA WorldView's Managing Editor. An Israeli journalist, she covered Iran and the Arab World for The Jerusalem Post. Previously, she lived and worked in Russia and Ukraine. Joanna speaks fluent Hebrew and Russian and reads Persian and Arabic.

5 Responses to Iran Feature: Rouhani Versus Supreme Leader On Women’s Rights

  1. incyprus says:

    Imprisoned Blogger Continues Hunger Strike; Father Writes to President and Supreme Leader

  2. khamenei1 says:

    I am superb in the competition for Holy madness, for
    I am the shrine of the past to worship —
    do so and remember
    you are forbidden to laugh

    Why would Bashar
    soak his fingers in milk;
    the Rebels are not kittens

    Be brave in the chemistry of combat —
    the correct deceptions have a formula

    We do not adhere to
    the blasphemy of translation

    I am the only Supreme Poet
    and you will not
    worship the flower

  3. Pingback: Corruption of the West | Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

  4. Women Freedom says:

    Flowers should not be hidden in a black tchador under the summer burning sun.
    Flowers should not be stoned.

  5. The flower does not drop a bomb
    but its blossoms are explosive

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