June 13, 2022 — New York
Masih Alinejad, one of the most outspoken opponents of the Islamic regime in Tehran, was honored today by American Jewish Committee (AJC) with the global advocacy organization’s Moral Courage Award.
“Masih Alinejad has dedicated her life to exposing the abuses of the Iranian regime, risking her life to shed light on Iran’s human rights abuses, and to advocate for other Iranian women who are fighting for a better future,” said Lisa Pruzan, a member of AJC’s National Board of Governors and AJC’s Women’s Leadership Board, who presented the award at the AJC Global Forum.
AJC honored Alinejad for her “moral, intellectual, and physical courage, extraordinary bravery, and commitment to the protection of human rights.”
Thanking AJC, Alinejad said she wants to share the Moral Courage Award with “the brave Iranian women” who have been treated as “second-class citizens” since the 1979 Islamic revolution. “I am a child of the Iranian revolution, which was supposed to bring freedom, prosperity and joy. However, it became a revolution against women,” she said.
Alinejad began her journalism career covering the parliament in Tehran and drew controversy for her articles about corrupt lawmakers. She left Iran in 2009, following the crackdown on protests against the disputed presidential elections, and moved to the United States.
In 2014, Alinejad launched “My Stealthy Freedom,” an online campaign against the Iranian regime’s mandate that women wear the hijab. It became the largest civil disobedience campaign in Iran’s history. Today, Alinejad has more than 9 million followers on her social media platforms.
“If you can’t choose what to put on your head, how can you be in charge of what is in your head,” Alinejad told the AJC Global Forum. “The fight against compulsory hijab is fighting against discrimination and for our own dignity as women, as human beings.”
“Iranian women lost many of the rights that generations before had fought so hard to get,” she added. In addition to the compulsory hijab, women judges have been expelled, women singers banned from performing, and women athletes barred from participating in certain sports. And laws on divorce, child custody and inheritance were changed in favor of men.
Alinejad emphasized that Iran’s leaders depend on popular support for its “Death to USA,” “Death to Israel,” and “compulsory hijab” policies.” Removing any of those pillars of support would bring about the regime’s collapse. “Think of compulsory hijab as the Berlin Wall. Just as the fall of the Berlin Wall led to the fall of communism, the same is true for the compulsory hijab,” she said.
The extent of the regime’s efforts to silence her was exposed last July, when the FBI arrested four Iranian intelligence officers in New York, who were planning to kidnap Alinejad and take her to Iran.
AJC has been sounding the alarm for years about the Iranian regime’s pervasive human rights abuses; its repeated calls for the annihilation of Israel, and support for Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations; pursuit of nuclear weapons capability; and interference in the internal affairs of countries across the Middle East.
“My work is not done,” Alinejad concluded. “I can feel miserable, or I can make my oppressors feel miserable. I choose the second option.”
AJC Global Forum, taking place June 12-14 in New York City, is the signature annual event of the leading global Jewish advocacy organization. It brings together thousands of participants from across the United States and dozens of countries around the world.