Reuters: Iranian police have detained two women’s rights campaigners and accused them of spreading propaganda against the Islamic state, a fellow activist said on Saturday. TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iranian police have detained two women’s rights campaigners and accused them of spreading propaganda against the Islamic state, a fellow activist said on Saturday.
Raheleh Asgarzadeh and Nasim Khosravi were detained in a Tehran park on Thursday while collecting signatures in support of a campaign to demand greater female rights, activist Sussann Tahmasebi told Reuters.
A court set bail of 200 million rials (around $21,400) each but they could not pay so they were sent to the capital’s Evin prison on Saturday, she said. The ISNA news agency carried a similar report, quoting their lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh.
“They deny the charges,” Tahmasebi said. “It is a peaceful movement.”
Tahmasebi said more than 40 activists had been detained since the drive was launched in 2006 to gather one million signatures in support of women’s rights in the Islamic Republic. Most were released within a few days or weeks.
Western diplomats and rights groups see the detention of women activists as part of a wider crackdown on dissent, which they say may be in response to Western pressure over Iran’s nuclear work.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last month said the West used negative propaganda about women’s rights in Iran as a tool to put political pressure on the country. Western powers suspect Iran’s nuclear program aims to develop develop bombs. Tehran says it is intended only to generate electricity.
The women activists, backed by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, are concerned about what they regard as institutionalized discrimination that makes them “second-class citizens” when it comes to divorce, inheritance, child custody and other aspects of life.
Iranian officials reject the allegations. Iran uses sharia, Islamic law.
Women are legally entitled to hold most jobs, but Iran remains dominated by men. In recent years women have started to work in the police and fire departments and there are female members of parliament, but they cannot run for president or become judges.
The activists say it is difficult for women to get a divorce. They criticize both the inheritance laws, and the fact that a woman’s court testimony is worth half that of a man, as unjust.
(Writing by Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Tim Pearce)