Pointed memoir by an Iranian journalist who has been a longtime advocate of women’s rights in the Islamic republic.
Alinejad, who has largely lived in exile for years, was born in a village in northern Iran. “I couldn’t imagine a better place anywhere else in the world,” she writes of her hometown. Born two years before the ouster of the shah, the author never knew the relative freedoms women enjoyed in Iran before the revolution in a state so secular that a law was passed forbidding women from wearing the hijab. “If I was alive then,” she writes, “I’d have opposed it not because I believe in the hijab but because I believe in freedom of choice.” Such belief drew Alinejad away from her quiet home and into significant events, and she became a news reporter. “The road to expulsion is paved with scoops,” she writes. It’s the content of those scoops, along with the graft and corruption underlying a regime that is still made up of politicians, that will be of interest to readers, certainly much more than the mundane details of her life and rote observations such as, “I’d always wanted my life to be impactful.” Driven from her country, Alinejad became a vocal and highly visible critic of the Ahmadinejad regime—but more, of the entire theocracy, which put her at odds with other members of the opposition: “The reformists didn’t want to overthrow the whole regime. They just didn’t like Ahmadinejad.” Even more visibly, she went on to found a movement against the compulsory wearing of the hijab, which encountered its own difficulties when Western women and men who might have been allies were reluctant to criticize Iran for fear of being labeled as bigots. “I realized,” she writes, “I was fighting both Trump’s Islamophobia and the Islamic Republic of Iran’s misogynist policies.”
Alinejad’s account provides a timely glimpse behind the Iranian curtain.