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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

No female Bikers allowed!

Just recently my special friend Sahar celebrated her 26th birthday. She is a mother, a wife and an architect living in Tehran, Iran. During our online chat, Sahar shared with me an event on her birthday that brought her great joy and happiness. She rode her friends bicycle for ten minutes and said this was the best birthday gift that anyone ever gave her. Sahar then went on to explain that in Iran women are not allowed to ride bicycles publicly.
In 1999, Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared that quote, "Women must avoid anything that attracts strangers, so riding bicycles by women in public places causes corruption and is thus forbidden."
It is not surprising that this is one more rule to keep women in their "proper place". It is one more rule that suppresses true freedom and enjoyment. Unfortunately at one time in America, women were held hostage by oppressive sexist rules and were denied the right to vote. In the early 19th century the bicycle when rode by a woman was viewed as a threat to the social order and a provocation to promiscuity. The famous woman's activist Susan B. Anthony pointed out that "the bicycle has done more for the emancipation of women than anything else in the world."
We've come a long way since the 19th century in recognizing the rights of women and giving them the dignity and respect that they deserve in both marketplace and the home. But what can we do for the millions of women who are suffering from government oppression in Iran? What about them? In the last decade, thanks to the hard working efforts of former First lady Laura Bush, for the first time in Islamic history, the women of Afghanistan were given the right to vote in elections. Its time that the women in Iran are set free from the oppressive shackles and chains of a male-dominated society.
Before I leave, I have just one question for the government of Iran. Why is it ok for you to develop nuclear weapons of mass destruction that ultimately will wipe out entire nations, but it is not ok for women to ride bicycles in public? What is wrong with this picture?
I pray one day that my friend Sahar will be able to migrate to America to enjoy our freedoms and if by God's grace we should meet, Im going to give her a special gift. Her very own bicycle! However, this time she will be allowed to ride it more than a few minutes. Sahar will have the great joy of riding it up and down every public street without fear. I hope and pray that I live to see that!