“It’s not just about the power of women. It is about the power of human beings. If you believe in yourself, that means you can.
These are the words of Zar Amr Ebrahimi during his press conference on Sunday evening after winning the Best Actress award at the 75th Cannes Film Festival.
Speaking to reporters, Zar held back tears as he spoke of his suffering. Shaking her head, she tearfully said, “They wanted to erase me and thought I might kill myself.”
Zar’s efforts are the efforts of millions of dismayed Iranians, struggling for success as they have been scattered around the world for the past forty plus years; as they were pushed to elimination and margins. The tears of this young woman were those of all Iranians caused by the Islamic Republic of Iran and its authorities who for decades have done so much to this nation and submitted even their daily life and basic entertainment to their government poisonous sectarian. .
Iran, this incomparable land – this land of poetry, art, literature, wealth, glory and beauty – has been led to such terrible conditions due to the incompetence of its rulers.
The story of Zar is that of Iran; a true story of an Iranian whose nation has been so restricted by the mullahs and government leaders that today dissidents have little option but flight from the country, suicide, isolation or despair.
For the past forty years, schools have spread lies, deceptions and curiosity about the privacy of others. In society, they promoted deception as a means of earning a living or gaining social status. Ethical poetry and the teachings of Iranian tradition have been eliminated from school textbooks. Instead, they have been replaced by social desperation, polygamy, child marriage, superstition and nonsense.
The history of this land shows that morality and religion have long been part of the life of its inhabitants. Zoroaster, the world’s first prophet announcing monotheism, came from the lands of Iran. Iranian teachings are filled with kindness, good thoughts, honesty and righteousness.
What the dominant regime in Iran teaches and promotes is division, bigotry, ignorance, obscurity and pessimism towards others. When such an attitude has the opportunity to prevail in any country, disaster ensues. Other religions also have extremist groups which, if given the opportunity to wield absolute power, would create catastrophic conditions like Iran.
In people-centered democracies, religion is a private matter and extremist religious forms are also respected as long as they do not threaten the safety and freedom of others in society. For example, there are fundamentalist Mormon sects that believe in polygamy (unlike mainstream Mormons who have denounced it), some traditionalist ultra-Orthodox Jewish sects, or Shia supporting the Velayat Faqih.
In the United States, evangelical Christian groups lack executive power and have at times clashed with the government and armed forces. But in the Middle East, home of religion and center of religious developments, things are different.
What explains the progress of the counties in our region – other than major policies and the management of human resources and affairs – is the rejection of extremism and fundamentalist Islamic groups.
We remember not so long ago, about 50 years ago, when Iran was a progressive country and a pioneer in bringing about reforms and changes that had made our country and our people a model for the region. In the areas of education, religious freedom, women’s suffrage, women’s presence in government and social centers, training of scientific cadres, major economic planning, infrastructure development and management resources, Iran was ahead of the countries in the region.
The Iranian revolution and the coming to power of a religious Velayat Faqih Shia government was due to the demagoguery of religious politicians and the Tudeh communist party. The collective memory of many of the 30 million Iranians who lived in 1979 remembers how some people managed to blow up the country’s problems to provoke public emotion and bring people down in the dark. street.
If there had been the Internet back then, and the mass media and satellite like we have now, things could have been clarified, there would have been easy access to information and no revolution would have took place in Iran.
The Iranian revolution has also affected the conditions for change and reform in the countries of the region. To put it better, it set them back. But they quickly learned and followed the changes needed to follow the unfinished path of the late Shah of Iran in reform and development.
The changes and reforms that are taking place in Saudi Arabia today are, in my opinion, a continuation of the path started by the Shah of Iran for his people and his country. Cutting short the reach of religious extremists from Saudi power and personal life has been the biggest change and the crown prince’s efforts to bring equal rights to men and women have paved the way for development and all-out participation.
Apart from fundamental reforms, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman suggested to the country’s consultative assembly a change of the national anthem and the elimination of the sword from the country’s flag. He believes that this symbol still gives an extremist and fundamentalist image of his country. Supported by awakened and enlightened youth and society, he carried out a fundamental reform. I believe that any reform or change in the Middle East, which is a hotbed of fundamentalism and the rise of fundamentalist and extremist groups, will be effective and useful for the neighboring countries. Saudi Arabia is today a source of inspiration for the countries of the region.
Zar Amir Ebrahimi showed the world that Iran is still Iran; a beautiful Iran with cinema, art, poetry, literature, religion, dance, music and a capable and knowledgeable people; an Iran that has been repressed for forty years but whose people still have the same qualities. She showed the Iranian people and many others driven from their homeland that the current government, and the obscurantism it promotes, will not be able to block a person’s development.
The success of Zar was, for us, more than the recognition of an artist. By speaking of the “power of the human being”, she goes beyond gender divisions and shows the depth of her gaze.
I don’t want to get into clichés and exaggerations. I sincerely want to tell Zar that she was all of us. She represented all Iranians who for the past forty plus years have been driven to death, despair and despair. She showed that it is possible to escape this anti-human regime and make your way to success.
A single person represented us, our Iranianness; she pointed to the wounded pride of millions of people to believe in ourselves more.
Zar, we thank you for representing us so well.