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Exclusive: Iranian Activist Says 'I Will Not Be Silenced', After Brother's Prison Sentence

Masih Alinejad, Iranian journalist and women's rights activist, speaks on stage at the Women In The World Summit in New York, April 12, 2019
Masih Alinejad, Iranian journalist and women's rights activist, speaks on stage at the Women In The World Summit in New York, April 12, 2019

In an exclusive interview with Radio Farda, the founder of anti-compulsory hijab and women's rights activist, Masih Alinejad, has insisted that sentencing her brother to eight years prison in Iran, exerting pressure on her family, and other threats cannot silence her.

Masih Alinejad who is in self-exile in New York is one of the most effective Iranian activists when it comes to rejecting compulsory hijab and defending women’s rights. She had a strong presence on social media and following in Iran.

Iran security forces arrested Masih’s brother Alireza Ali Nejad's last September in what she says was a clear attempt to pressure her and convicted him to an eight-year prison sentence last week. Charges ranged from "conspiracy to act against the country's security," to "Insulting the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei," and for "propaganda against the regime."

"The only reason behind my brother's conviction is to silence me," the outspoken defender of women's rights told Radio Farda.

Meanwhile, 43-year-old Alinejad asserts that her brother has fallen victim to the Islamic Republic's hostility against her civil rights activities.

"Taking hostages" Alinejad has argued, "is a method regularly used by the Islamic Republic to control everything in its favor. Therefore, submission to the regime's demands will encourage it to continue to apply the method again and again."

Expanding on the reasons behind her brother's conviction, Masih Alinejad disclosed for the first time that the agents of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Intelligence Organization (IRGCIO) set a trap to capture her.

They were set to lure me into traveling to Turkey, ensnare me there, and force me back to Iran, Alinejad reveals, asserting, "However, my brother raised the alarm and relayed a message, warning me against traveling to Turkey. That's one of the reasons for my brother's conviction."

Furthermore, Alinejad says that the IRGC Intelligence Organization agents attempted to take her brother to the monopolized state-run TV to tape a statement in which he would disown her.

"My brother rejected, telling them that whenever [the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader] Khamenei stepped forward to disown his sister, I would follow his footsteps," Alinejad divulged.

Khamenei's sister is married to a vociferous anti-Islamic Republic dissident, Sheikh Ali Tehrani.

Once a close ally of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Khamenei's brother-in-law joined forces with opponents of the elderly Ayatollah, criticizing his iron-fist rule over Iran.

Later, in March 1984, Sheikh Ali Tehrani secretly fled from the state-imposed house arrest to Iraq. He preached against the Islamic Republic and its rulers, on Radio Baghdad's Persian-speaking programs.

The controversial cleric returned to Iran in 1995 and was sentenced to twenty years in prison but officially released ten years later in 2005.

Silence, Masih Alinejad asserts, only helps the Islamic Republic regime expand repression and continue its brutal rule over Iran.

"As recently as yesterday, more than six million Iranians tweeted and called for an end to the death penalty. They all protested the imminent execution of three young men arrested during last November’s protests against skyrocketing prices, corruption, and mismanagement. Nevertheless, one wonders where the relatives of the three are. Are they for hanging their loved ones? Of course, not. The regime agents undoubtedly have also threatened and warned them to keep mum; otherwise, things could worsen," Alinejad laments, noting, "Along with many other victims of injustice, I will never give up. I will never be silent since silence only helps this ISIS-style establishment to carry on its suppressive rule, killing more, take more hostages, torture, and arrest many more."