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Profession: reporter

Between the worlds. Of power and powerlessness in Iran
Forfatter: Natalie Amiri
Forlag: Aufbau (Tyskland)
IRAN / In Iran, women can at any time end up in the clutches of the increasingly powerful and erratic Revolutionary Guard. It has a decisive influence on all public areas, from culture and the environment to the economy, politics and justice. And: Ebrahim Raisi was the name of the man who was responsible for the "death committee" – now he is Iran's future president.


Belonging to a country you fear, despise and love, exerts a very special pressure on a person. When at the same time you also belong to another country, one that provides security and freedom, the gap between them becomes abysmal.

As for Natalie Amiri. Her father is a carpet dealer from Iran, her mother is German. She herself has studied Orientalism in Bamberg, Tehran and Damascus. From 2007 she was a correspondent for German television. In 2015, she took over the TV channel ARD's Tehran office, until May 2020. She had to quit, since the German Foreign Ministry feared a hostage drama. During all her stays in her Iranian homeland, Natalie feared for her safety. So what makes a single mother in her forties continually expose herself to such dangers when she could easily have chosen a life at a safe distance from it all?

The Islamic moral code is like an iron corset.

One of the answers obviously lies in the profession of reporter. With both the Farsi language and the Iranian passport, Natalie Amiri had golden opportunities to report from within a closed system, from a country that plays a major role in the international political arena – where the people and the state at the same time move far apart.

Personal experiences and political analysis

That which catches especially in Amiris book Between the worlds. Of power and powerlessness in Iran, is that she balances professionally between personal experiences and political analysis. At the same time, the book is a wounded ode to a rich cultural landscape, trapped in a brutal system, by a regime "which derives its legitimacy from religion and kills in its name".

A climax of the violence took place in July 1988: Thousands of political prisoners were executed in a matter of days, without trial. There could be six people in a gallows. A secret fatwa from ayatollah Khomeini legitimized this. Ebrahim raisi was the name of the man in charge of this "committee of death." Until June, he was head of the ultra-conservative judiciary. Now he is Iran's future president.

In the 1990s, more than 80 writers, translators, poets, political activists, and ordinary citizens disappeared. "They died in car accidents, by stabbing and shooting through staged assaults, were strangled or injected with potassium to simulate heart attacks. This went down in Iran's history under the name 'chain murder', which the secret services were behind »(Amiri). These murders are still unsolved.

There could be six people in a gallows.

'One of the biggest problems for the state of God Iran during the elections in June 2021 was the low turnout. It says far too much about the declining belief in those in power. People have resigned because they know what they are risking. Like when the state in 2019 tripled petrol prices, from one day to the next. There were protests, and protesters were shot. Reuters reported 1500 deaths.

Natalie Superintendent

The power of women and the Revolutionary Guards

Who has the most to gain from a development in a liberal, democratic direction in Iran? The women, of course. And there are also those who give Amiri the most hope. Where does their courage come from? From the fact that they have so little to lose? The Islamic moral code is like an iron corset. If a strand of hair gets lost outside the hijab, if an ankle bone peeks out from under their chador – then the woman can at any time end up in the increasingly powerful and erratic Revolutionary Guards claws. Iranian law is determined solely by male clergy. Although the number of female students is approx. 60 percent, the number of women in the labor market is around 18 percent – according to a study from 2019. Only men can be granted a divorce. After a child has reached the age of seven, parental rights automatically go to the father. And husbands have the right to have sex with their husbands, if only by force.

Amiri describes the fate of the human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotudeh. Three years ago, Sotudeh was arrested and sentenced to 33 years in Evin Prison, an institution known as a terrorist institution. The punishment included 148 lashes. The accusations were of disturbing public order, sinful behavior without headgear, espionage and incitement to prostitution. In 2020, Sotudeh launched a hunger strike. After 50 days and near death, she ended the strike. The same month, it was announced that Nasrin Sotudeh had won an alternative Nobel Prize, due to his struggle for political freedom. "She does not know about it," said her husband. Only after several days could he reach his wife by phone.

A brief look at the power of the notorious Revolutionary Guards tells a lot about Iran's development for the worse. No one knows exactly who and how many belong to it. It will be about millions. It exerts a decisive influence in all public areas, from culture and the environment to economics, politics and justice. Garden has its own air force, navy and army. A parallel state. A subdivision of the Revolutionary Guard is the Quds Brigade. Commander since 1998 was Quassem Soleimani, who was assassinated by the Americans in January 2020. The year before, the US government had categorized the Quds Brigade as a terrorist organization.

Two worlds

Natalie calls herself a juggler between two worlds, between anti-American protesters in Tehran and dancing people in beer tents in Munich. Often "my soul did not come fast enough". She is full of memories from her childhood in Iran; including how she and her friends were sent to the basement to play when the cleaning help was in the house. There was a danger that this could intercept information that could put them all in danger. Reporting and double standards were and are sad consequences of a regime based on oppression.

Natalie Amiri hopes to one day be able to return to Iran. Meanwhile, she is looking for people who speak Farsi on the streets of Munich. To seek a bit of belonging – in this gap between two worlds.

Ranveig Eckhoff
Ranveig Eckhoff
Eckhoff is a regular reviewer for Ny Tid.

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