On Saturday, March 7, a grand gathering, “For Tolerance and Equality against Fundamentalism and Misogyny”, was held in Berlin to mark the International Women’s Day and address the many challenges and hurdles in the pursuit of gender equality. One of the major themes discussed at the event was the extremely destructive role of Islamic Fundamentalism in relation to women rights. Be it the Middle East or Africa, Asia or Europe – Islamic Fundamentalism has emerged as a serious threat to human and women rights, and has to be overcome for the advancement of the cause.
The participants agreed that the Iranian regime remains the primary sponsor of terrorism and the ideology of Islamic Fundamentalism, and there is a need to evolve a comprehensive strategy, which ought to entail vital support for democratic Muslims and keeps Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. The speakers highlighted the importance of empowering women and backing a legitimate resistance movement, which has consistently supported women and demonstrated faith in their leadership.
The gathering was also attended President-elect of the Iranian Resistance, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, as well as numerous artists, human and women rights activists, and prominent political and personalities from across the world, including Kim Campbell, Rita Süssmuth, Linda Chavez, Frances Townsend, Ingrid Betancourt, Helmuth Markov, and a delegation of women jurists led by María Elena Elverdin (Portuguese General Prosecutor), a delegation from Syrian opposition, a large delegation of legislators and mayors and other German dignitaries, a delegation of female parliamentarians from Arabic countries, delegations representing dozens of Iranian women associations and organizations throughout Europe and the United States, as well as thousands of women from varying backgrounds, nationalities and religions united under the banner of gender equality and justice.
In her address to the conference, Mrs Maryam Rajavi outlined the cause of rising fundamentalism and traced its roots to the theocratic regime of Iran that serves as role model for fundamentalists around the world. She said, “Fundamentalism is not a face-off between Islam and the West nor a confrontation between Islam and Christianity and Judaism, or a Shia and Sunni conflict. The crux of the conflict is between freedom versus subjugation and dictatorship, between equality on the one hand and tyranny and misogyny on the other. Fundamentalism has placed misogyny at its core and through suppressing women it intimidates and suppresses the entire society.”
She stressed that it is critical for all women who value freedom and rights to organize themselves and put up a united front against the onslaught of Islamic Fundamentalism, especially for the sake of women facing tyranny and discrimination in the Middle East. She said, “She said: To rein in the ominous phenomenon of Islamic fundamentalism, one should inescapably confront the religious dictatorship ruling Iran. This regime is at the heart of the problem and its support for the Assad and Maliki dictatorships in Syria and Iraq has led to the rise of fundamentalist militias and the ISIS. As such, silence in face of regime’s meddling in countries of this region, let alone collaborating with it on the pretense of fighting ISIS, is a horrendous strategic mistake.”
She cautioned against expecting change or sincerity from the regime, “It is delusional to ask the arsonist to put out the fire. Diagonally opposite, the correct policy is to evict the mullahs’ regime from Iraq and Syria. Bringing down this regime is an essential imperative not just for the Iranian people, but for the region and the world. The crime of the appeasement by Western governments is that they have chosen the path of conciliation with the state sponsor of fundamentalism, the regime of Iran, and have participated in clamping down on the alternative to fundamentalism. Offering concessions to this regime in the nuclear negotiations is against the highest interests of the peoples of Iran and the region and undermines global peace and security. It is also taking the human rights of the Iranian people to the altar.”
Mrs. Rajavi pointed towards the rising number of executions carried out by Iran, including the March 4 hangings of no less than 21 prisoners, six of whom were Sunni political prisoners. She said, “To avert popular uprisings, particularly during nuclear negotiations, the Iranian regime badly needs this wave of executions and oppression. Silence and inaction regarding the grave violation of human rights in Iran, not only emboldens this regime to carry on with its atrocities, but encourages the regime in pursuing the nuclear program and exporting of terrorism.”
Mrs Maryam Rajavi urged support for the Iranian Resistance, which is the desirable democratic alternative, which has gone through trial by fire during its consistent and principled opposition to the clerical regime over the last three decades. The IR adheres to a vision of a democratic and tolerant Islam and stands for the separation of the mosque and the state, gender equality and a non-nuclear, peaceful Iran.
She concluded by saying, “The largest movement of women vanguards in Camp Liberty gives hope and inspiration to Iranian women and is an asset to equality movements in the world. She called on the international community, the U.S. government, the European Union, and the United Nations to secure their protection and security.”
The grand event, which was inaugurated by Ms. Sarvnaz Chitsaz, NCRI Women’s Committee Chair, and was moderated by Ms. Linda Chavez, former White House Director of Public Liaison, was attended by a variety of renowned personalities, many of who shared their views on the subject of women rights.
The speakers included: Rudy Giuliani, former Mayor of New York City and Presidential candidate (2008), and Frances Townsend, Assistant to U.S. President on Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (2004-2008), from the United States;
Kim Campbell and Iveta Radicova, former Prime Ministers of Canada and Slovakia;
Rita Süssmuth, former President of Bundestag; Helmuth Markov, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice of Brandenburg; Günter Verhuegen, European Commissioner (1999-2009) and former advisory minister in German Foreign Affairs Ministry; Horst Teltschik, National Security Advisor to Chancellor Helmut Kohl and former Leader of Munich Security Conference; Bishop Wolfgang Huber, former President of Protestant Council; Otto Bernhardt, President of the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation and Chair of German Committee in Solidarity with Free Iran; Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, former Minister of Justice; Andreas Statzkowski, Deputy Interior Minister;
Matthias Köhne and Angelika Schöttler on behalf of delegation of mayors, Fritz Felgentreu, Thomas Nord, Rudolf Hencke and Stefan Evers of different political inclinations and parties on behalf of German legislators in the conference, and Susanne Kahl-Pasoth, Vice President of German Women’s Council, from Germany; Ryszard Czarnecki, Vice-President of European Parliament from Poland; Alejo Vidal-Quadras, former Vice-President of European Parliament and President of International Committee In Search of Justice (ISJ) from Spain; Struan Stevenson, former President of the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iraq and President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA) from Great Britain; Bernard Kouchner, Giulio Maria Terzi, and Maia Panjikidze former Foreign Ministers of France, Italy and Georgia; Ingrid Betancourt, former presidential candidate from Colombia, and María Elena Elverdin, General Prosecutor from Portugal; Khawala Dunia, Syrian Coalition Ambassador to Germany, on behalf of women’s delegation of Syrian Coalition; Najimeh Taytay from Moracco on behalf of a women delegation from Arabian countries’ parliamentarians, who also read the message of Palestinian delegation; Valentian Leskaj, legislator from Albania and Deputy of European Council; Senator Gari Durán Vadell and Beatriz Becerra from Spain; and Nele Lijnen from Belgium, on behalf of a large delegation of women from European Parliament.
Ranjana Kumari from India on behalf of a delegation of prominent women from Asia and women movements there; Additionally, in this program, eighty women personalities declared their solidarity with the International Front against Fundamentalism that had been announced by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi.
Vida Nik Talean, President of Women Association for Democracy in Iran, spoke on behalf of Iranian women institutions and associations throughout the world that had participated in this program. A delegation of women representing five continents of the world and delegations from Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia also attended.