We have been discussing the incredible courage of women activists in Saudi Arabia and Iran who are being arrested, tortured, and imprisoned for claiming the most basic civil liberties. One of the most inspiring activists is Nasrin Sotoudeh, a world renowned human rights lawyer jailed in Iran for her representation of women who removed their mandatory headscarf. In an act of unspeakable brutality and savagery, an Iranian court has sentenced her to 38 years and 148 lashes in a trumped up charge of spying, spreading propaganda, and insulting Iran’s supreme leader. In the meantime, ten women are being tried in Saudi Arabia which continues to repress women and girls under its strict Islamic code.
Sotoudeh was arrested in June. She was previously sentenced to six years for spreading propaganda and conspiracy to harm the state. She was released after three years
The disgraceful and inhumane treatment of Sotoudeh is a reflection of the Sharia legal system that enforces strict Islamic rules. The brutal sentences reflect the insecurity of the mullahs that people might assert the right to think, worship and live according to their values and conscience.
One of the authoritarian cogs in this system is “Judge” Mohammad Moqiseh, of the revolutionary court in Tehran. He announced the sentencing of Sotoudeh.
Sotoudeh is the personification of the struggle for human rights. She is a reminder of the courage and sacrifice being made by lawyers around the world in seeking to protect the rights of others. Someday women will be free in Iran and Saudi Arabia to pursue their own lives, dreams, and values. When that day comes, it will be due to heroism of people like Nasrin Sotoudeh.