Iran has a complicated history and social structure. It is important for the Iranian people to be able to find their own way to a better community and better world. Political and economic sanctions against Iran may pressure the current regime to create a more democratic country. At the Organization of Iranian American Communities, we know it is important to understand how the country got to where it is.
Effects on Women
When the people rose up against the Shah and supported the Ayatollah Khomeini, they opted for a more conservative government. Women were part of the alliance against the Shah and wore the “Chador” to show that they were for Khomeini. Unfortunately, the women who participated in the Islamic Revolution lost many of their rights when Khomeini came to power. Under Khomeini, women needed to have their husband’s permission to work or go abroad. They also faced stricter punishments for adultery. Many Persian-American immigrants find the lack of rights for women abhorrent and want Iran to be able to choose its own destiny as a democracy rather than a theocracy or monarchy.
Effects on Education
Immediately after the revolution, universities were closed for 2 years. The Iranian community found that the system was revamped to inculcate Islam and the power of Khomeini. The names of the Shah and his family were removed from history and from any other class. Courses on the Quran are now essential for all students, including Christians. Those who cannot pass do not get to continue their education.
Effects on Social Life
Music is currently performed only at underground parties and privately. While some music instruments are now legal, music is still considered fundamentally against Islam. Foreign singers are banned. The theater is highly regulated.
Persian-American culture is intricately tied to the culture in Iran. Sanctions should only be lifted when Iran can have free elections, under the supervision of the United Nations, and improved human rights for everyone.