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Friday, March 9, 2012

Exiled Iranian Women Pose Nude To Protest Repression

Golshifteh Farahani
VIDEO: Exiled Iranian Women Pose Nude To Protest Repression

After a nude photo and short video of a popular Iranian actress baring her breast roiled Iranian opinion, several online campaigns have sought to raise awareness about repression of women in Iran. The latest such salvo came from a group of European-based Iranians posing in order to promote sales the Nude Photo Revolutionary Calendar. The women react to practices by saying that their nude bodies are saying “no” to practices and ideologies, such as “stoning to death” and “political Islam.” But at RFE/RL, Golnaz Esfandiari points out that it’s not clear how sales of the calendar “would actually ‘go towards supporting women’s rights and free expression’ as the clip states.”

Warning: Brief Female Nudity!!!

A group of Iranian women living in exile in Europe hope to help combat repression in their native country by posing nude in a new video.

According to ThinkProgress, the video is an effort to drum up sales for the Nude Photo Revolutionary Calendar.
The International Business Times notes that the calendar is the creation of activist and campaigner Maryam Namazie, and is dedicated to an Egyptian blogger who posted nude pictures of herself to protest sexual discrimination in Islam. The calendar is set to be released on International Women's Day.

"Islamism and the religious right are obsessed with women's bodies," Namazie told the paper. "They demand that we be veiled, bound, and gagged. In the face of this assault, nudity breaks taboos and is an important form of resistance."

The calendar and the video come after a partially-nude photo of Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani drew criticism from the Iranian government and the actress was banned from returning to Iran. Farahani has said that her appearances were in protest of Iran's restrictions on how women are allowed to appear in public, according to The Daily Beast.

Radio Free Europe points out that "it's unclear how the video or 'purchas[ing] a copy of the Nude Photo Revolutionary Calendar' would actually 'go towards supporting women's rights and free expression,' as the clip states."


Nude Photo of Iranian Actress Golshifteh Farahani Roils Iran


A nude photo and breast-baring video of the actress have divided Iranians who see it as striking a blow against Tehran’s Islamist extremism, and those who condemn it as an example of Western moral turpitude. 

The publication of a nude picture of a popular Iranian actress currently in exile in Paris has sparked enormous Internet buzz, and polarized many Iranians conflicted about nudity—at a time that Iran’s independent movie community is under severe repression by authorities. Is it a courageous act of challenging Islamic and cultural taboos, or an insensitive and selfish move that might give Tehran hardliners an excuse in to put more pressure on Iran’s independent film community?

Earlier this week, France’s Madame Le Figaro magazine published a photo of Golshifteh Farahani in which she posed with her hands covering her breasts. In a short video placed on the Internet by the academy that gives out the César—the French version of the Oscar—Farahani is seen with other individuals selected for an award.  Everyone is removing their clothes, but only Frahani shows her bare breast to the camera.

Farahani 28, who is also a musician, is one of Iran’s most popular actresses.  She started her career in theater age 6, and appeared in her first film at 14. She has received a number of prestigious awards, such as a Silver Bear from the Berlin International Film Festival (2009) for the movie, Elly, directed by Asghar Farhadi, who received a Golden Globe Award for his new film, The Separation, last week. Farahani has starred in more than 15 films, including Ridley Scott’s Body of Lies (2008), with Leonardo DiCaprio.

Less than 24 hours after the photo and video appeared on Facebook, thousands of people had shared or commented on them. Some saw the actress as brave to ignore the taboos in Iran. Considering Farahani was born after the Islamic Revolution and is considered a child of the Islamist system enforced by the Iranian regime, some saw her behavior as a protest against oppressive policies that for the past three decades have done things like force women to wear the hijab.

Golshifteh Farahani
Golshifteh Farahani in Venice, Italy, in September of last year., Franco Origlia / Getty Images

Over the past several weeks, Iranian authorities have tried to shut down the Cinema House, Iranian cinema’s largest independent association, with some  extremists criticizing what they called a consistent lack of regard for Islamic moral code within the Iranian film industry.  And some critics say publishing a controversial photo of someone who earned her fame in the Iranian film industry would provide an excuse for such extremists to attack Iranian actors and expand their crackdown on the film industry.

It is naïve to presume an act of an individual as representative of a whole generation—Golshifteh—represents nothing,” said Ali Reza Eshraghi, Rotary fellow in the Communication Department at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. “We don’t know anything about the motives behind and the context of her decision, but we know that she has decided to continue her profession in France, which has a different system of morality and different decorum of business than Iran.”

While some pundits praise Golshifeth’s nude appearance as if she has shocked the Islamic regime, I believe that the regime quietly enjoys and benefits from the photo, portraying her as a symbol of an opposition movement who is affected by the corrupt Western liberal democracies,” Eshraghi added.

Golshifteh is not the first Iranian to appear nude before the camera after the 1979 Revolution. In a 2006 film, Scream of Ants, directed by acclaimed Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, the actress and TV peronality Luna Shad was seen naked in some scenes—something unprecedented since the Islamic Revolution.

Opposing this photograph is totally understandable in the existing atmosphere inside Iran, because the environment is not ready for such actions,” Luna Shad told The Daily Beast in a telephone interview.  “But I’m surprised at the reactions of Iranian intellectuals outside Iran.

Though Iranians outside Iran are talking about democracy and freedom, I can see that their reaction to Golshifteh’s choice in her environment in France is not that different from how they reacted to my choice seven years ago.”

Well-known media critic Mehdi Jami wrote in his blog, Sibestan: “When the sanctimonious regime was driving thousands upon thousands of Iranians abroad, making them refugees of the world, it never thought it was preparing the basis for changes that would, sooner or later, affect the situation inside the country. Because these thousands upon thousands live among other cultures, and they enjoy freedoms that would change their behavior and the effect of their choices will no longer just stay outside Iran.

Today, immigrant Iranians have turned into a source of change for those inside the country and use different media for communicating with their own people and this is history joking with a regime that has been our most ill-humored political and thinking system.”
Stories retrieved from:
Think Progress on 09 March 2012.

AOL on 09 March 2012.

The Daily Beast on 09 March 2012.

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