As an Iranian born dissident, Why I support Israel

I was just 13 when the Islamic Republic of Iran was established by the human rights violator, anti Jewish, anti-semite, anti-Christian, dictator Ayatollah Khomeini, which was only made possible with the help of the Western powers.

Overnight all women, including elementary school girls, were forced to cover their bodies from head to toe and ordered to only wear dark colours. Under the Islamic Sharia law constitution, we were no longer allowed to attend school with the opposite sex.

Our once praised school curriculum was now replaced by Islamic-and Arabic studies where we had to memorize and recite the Quranic verses with mandatory prayer time in schools.

It was at that time that I had an awakening and started to search for truth and justice by reading the Khomeinist regime’s banned newspapers, and books and attended after-school youth study group meetings.

The Islamic cultural revolution founded by Abdokarim Soroush shut down the universities for two years so the Islamic republic would be able to change the entire higher education system.

The “Islamic Cultural Revolution” fired all academics and researchers who were not part of the establishment of the Islamic republic and transformed it to an Islamic Institution center run by Islamic Morality Police forces were introduced by Mohsen Sazegara and Mostafa Tajzadeh. The more I was searching the more I realized how I was robbed of my teen years by a radical regime that sought to force its values on the masses by devastating force.

My childhood memories were replaced by a reality created by a regime where women were now treated as second class citizens to men and even the most mundane details of our lives was strictly controlled by Khomeini’s Revolutionary Guards and the morality police.

Imagine for a moment a mother, in Iran, living a quiet, uneventful life with her children. Imagine the horror of that same woman when in the early hours of the morning she comes face-to-face with the notorious Revolutionary Guards, forcing their way into her home to arrest her 16-year-old daughter. That child was me.

In my young trustful mind, I did not think that a simple conversation, having an opinion and simply expressing it, would put my life in danger.

There are no words to describe what life in prison was like for a teenager who had never been apart from her parents, even for a one night sleepover at her grandparents. From being a picky eater at home, I was forced to eat the terrible selection in Evin prison, where I found more than a couple times a toenail in the food. I also had to learn to discern the prisoners who were working as spies, providing information for the regime and prison authorities. In the end, I was given an 18-month sentence. In reality, according to the law, I should have been executed for my anti-Islamic Republic views.

To this day I have no idea why and how my life was spared. But I do remember making a deal with myself, in that corner of the torture chamber, that if I were set free, I would dedicate my life to fight against injustice to my very last breath. I also silently promised each and every one of those who were tortured and murdered by the Islamic Republic that I would live and bear witness for them.

After I was freed from the clutches of Evin, I decided to find out exactly why I was taken and why so many were killed. I found out that the Islamic Republic of Iran demanded absolute compliance with the regime. Torture and death awaited those who dared question it. There was absolutely no room for error by a citizen and there was no forgiveness. When I was barely 18, we left Iran. My parents were so worried that I could end up back in prison as I continued to rebel against the regime and hated their forced hijab. I was stopped by the morality police a number of times and given a warning for not covering my hair or for walking too fast as a female, which was against the Islamic Sharia law in Iran.

My life forever changed with that awakening to never stop seeking justice and freedom and advocating for human rights.

I stand with Israel because Israel is the ONLY free, liberal and democratic country in the Middle East – a canary in the coal mine. I support Israel because they have free and democratic elections, free speech, freedom of religion and gender, and freedom of sexuality. Do the enemies of Israel believe in secularism and show respect for her values? No, they do not.

In Iran and Gaza the officials implemented barbaric brutal sharia law, a law that won’t allow mixing between the sexes—a law that women are denigrated as second class citizens and if a woman defends herself against her rapist or kills her attacker, she gets hanged by the officials; all this according to their Sharia law, with an ethic diametrically opposed to democracy, with the ultimate purpose of destroying liberty and dominating the world.

In Gaza, atheists are jailed by Fatah and Hamas for having an opinion. All protests are banned. Opposition groups are banned and those who are against Hamas are shot and killed. Hamas bans women from dancing, riding motor scooters, arrests the women for wearing “immodest” clothing, and meeting with men who are not related to them. In Gaza, Co-educational schools are attacked by armed gunmen. Hamas keeps terrorizing the tiny minority population of Christians. The only Christian store in Gaza was firebombed by Hamas mobs and its owner was executed by them. Hamas forces Christians to convert to Islam. There is no parliamentary opposition/ parliament, or even elections. Hamas also uses their own elderly, women, and children as human shields to show themselves as victims.

For many years a Jewish Canadian friend of mine celebrated Christmas with a tree, a little manger set from Mexico that her friends gave to her. The rabbi visited my friend one Christmastime and asked her why she had a Christmas tree- celebrating Christmas? She told him it is not often many in the world celebrated a little Jewish boy’s birthday.

The Western world must support Israel; the ONLY free and democratic country in the Middle East. The Western world must support groups that follow secular enlightenment values, and must openly condemn those leaders and groups that do not.

I support Israel and condemn her enemies; the enemies of humanity and freedom; the enemies such as Hamas, Fatah, Hezbollah, Islamic Republic of Iran, the dictatorship regimes of Syria and Turkey, The Arab League, including Saudi Arabia, Al Qaeda and ISIS. If we let Israel succumb to their forces, it will be a disaster for the rest of the western world.

I support Israel because it is a free and democratic state; a true Liberal state where 30% of its population is atheist, far more than the secular Ireland. In Israel you can freely change your religion or go to the ONLY nude beach in the Middle East without being harassed by police.

Israelis had another successful Gay Pride Parade which took place in Tel Aviv in June and was voted BEST gay city in the world in 2011! I am sure some supporters of the Palestinian and Iranian regimes would like to tell the world when next gay pride parade under their sharia law will take place ?

That which comes out of Israel is kind, humanitarian, hopeful. This canary is a beacon of light and a breath of fresh air in an otherwise dark, suffocating, and terrorizing Middle East.

As an Iranian Christian and dissident, once imprisoned in Iran in her teens, please allow me to finish my statement with a verse from the Bible, from the Book of Isaiah 49:6 “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept.

I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

About the Author
Shabnam Assadollahi is an award-winning Canadian human rights advocate and freelance writer/journalist of Iranian origin. She has a Master’s degree in Social Anthropology and has worked extensively helping newcomers and refugees resettle in Canada and has distinguished herself as a broadcaster, writer and public speaker. Shabnam was arrested and imprisoned at age 16 for eighteen months in Iran's most notorious prison, Evin. Shabnam’s primary and heartfelt interest is to focus on the Iranian community and world events affecting women and minority communities.
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