by Jean Mayland
from Signs of the Times No. 34 - Jul 2009

Last year I wrote in Signs of the Times about my journey on the Silk Route and my visit to Iran. This is a small PS to that.

On Saturday 13 June there was an excellent leader in The Times about women in Iran. It began

'Whoever wins Iran's election, an enduring image of this extraordinary exercise in democracy will linger; young women calling for freedom, head-scarves pushed back on their heads and green bands tied to arms held defiantly aloft ...'

Later it ends by saying:

'For many years people had hoped that an economic liberalism would unseat authoritarian government. But choice in the market place has not always been followed by choice in the public square. Education and the promise of equality, however, are prompting women across the Moslem world to agitate for real democracy.
It is not the demand for consumer choice that threatens to topple repressive theocracies. It is the demand for an equal voice.'

When I was in Iran last year our guide said that the revolution would be begun by young women. I talked to a lot of girls from school and young women from University - most eager for more freedom and opportunity - hating the dress they were forced to wear and interested to know about England.

On Thursday and Friday 11 and 12 of June as I watched them on TV I was so excited. Young women were out in the streets pushing back their headscarves and wearing green ribbons, shouting and dancing and demanding freedom and equality.

Then came the election and then of course - and of course the male control clamped down and the movement seemed crushed. We women priests and our supporters know all about getting up again after a defeat and pressing on but it will be much harder for women in Iran.

I fear the police will be scanning TV pictures and making arrests - PLEASE REMEMBER THE YOUNG WOMEN (AND MEN) OF IRAN IN YOUR PRAYERS.


Jean Mayland is a retired priest and former Co-ordinating Secretary and  Assistant General Secretary at Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.