It is a significant step which local experts believe that can inspire Baluchi women to work for more rights and break boundaries that have been created by both the state and society.
Samiyeh Balochzehi, 26, who was elected mayor by the Kalat city council, is an engineer and has a master’s degree in natural resources management from the Islamic Azad University Science and Research Branch in Tehran. […]
Balochzehi is a widow, her sister is on the city council and she comes from a wealthy and influential family. […]
The province of Sistan-Baluchistan is situated in southeastern Iran and at 187,502 square kilometers [72,395 square miles, roughly the size of Washington state] is Iran’s largest province. From the north of the province to the city of Zabol (famous ancient city) is the region of Sistan, whose population is mostly Persian-speaking and Shiite. […]
This province has historically suffered from political repression, economic deprivation, and has witnessed violence through terrorism from extremist Sunni groups and drug smuggling. […]
Read more: AL-MONITOR | Baluch Sunni woman elected mayor is first for Iran
So what is remarkable in this news?
Well,a sunni woman took part in elections and was elected as mayor in a city in Iran.
(Sunni women have rarely a chance to take part in elections and having a chance to win in sunni countries like Saudi Arabia. Shiite men or woman have no chance at all in those countries. Even in Bahrain where the majority is shiite but the ruling family is sunni, shiites have not even a chance to get an offical position)
We are also reading that her sister is on the city council (so also other sunni women have chances in Iran) and that her family is rich and influential. In Sunni countries Shia citizens have often no chance to be rich or influential, even though they come from the oil rich parts of the country (Saudi Arabia) they belong to the poorest people, and have not even the most basic rights.
Just skim over these news on Bahrain and you know what I am speaking about:
Also having a masters degree at all is nothing really common for men or women in sunni countries. In some women cannot even attend school.
Reblogged this on Remarkable people with Iranian roots.
Very interesting… I saw someone state on Twitter a few days ago that Sunnis are oppressed in Iran! King Salman actually fired Saudi’s only female minister when he did his succession and cabinet shuffle a few months ago. Great blog!
Hi Sophie, I am happy that you liked my blog.
I am sorry I could not answer earlier I was very busy at work because from tomorrow I am on vacation.
Yes the post you commented on is really a good example, not only is it for a woman in Saudi Arabia almost impossible to get a political post (Iran’s vice president is a woman: https://theotheriran.com/?s=vice+president ), women are also not allowed to drive, and more as you know. As a Shia it is even more impossible to achieve anything there.
Generally I avoid to write about politics, but this is a hot topic, that bothers me a lot, even though I am not religious. Still I am observing the frequent bombing of Shia mosques and market places indiscriminately targeting civilians just because they are Shia in Iraq and several Persian Gulf monarchies.
The Sunni monarchies (Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain) generally behave very sectarian and oppressive, yet they try to distract by pointing to others. Oman is as far as I know the most neutral and liberal country in the Arabian peninsula and the biggest exception.
Everyone beside Sunnis is a second class citizen. In Saudi Arabia and Qatar the state run TV stations openly speak of “Shia dogs”, or call the leader of the sectarian radical Sunni Nusra Front openly “your excellency” though his group has committed several ethnical cleanisings in Syria. A Shia’s words are worth nothing in courts. Generally it is easy to implement sectarian policies in Sunni majority states because at least radical Sunnis (I am not talking about Sunnis in general) view Shia as heretics. The opposite is not true, the Shia who are minority in the big group of Muslims, do not see Sunnis as heretics. Nowadays for Shia the difference to Sunnis are mainly different habits (Shia pray 3 times a day Sunnis 5 times, …). Conservative Sunnis see Shias often as lazy and misled believers. Radicals see them as heretics, who should be killed.
Now Saudi Arabia, who has a big influence on the west, because it is both the worlds biggest oil exporter and the worlds biggest arms importer (mainly from countries it wants to influence: USA, France, Germany),
talks about Iran oppressing Sunnis mainly because of two reasons:
1) To distract from its own very obvious oppression of Shia (it is written in their law) and create an external common enemy for the Sunni states. Iran as an enemy also makes them partners for the west.
2) To try to disintegrate and weaken Iran, creating sectarian tensions and promote separatism, to be itself the regional super power (which Saudi Arabia already is in terms of economy and military equipement) and dominate the oil market even more.
Point 1) is somehow working.
Point 2) has been failing for decades. The reason is simple, Iranians no matter which faith feel first as Iranians and second as Arabs (there are Shia and Sunni Arab minorities in Iran) or as Sunnis, Christians, Jews, …
This was proven, when Saddam attacked Iran and expected that the Arabs on the Iraqi border would feel more close to their Arab Iraqi brothers and would cooperate with them. The opposite was the case the Iraqis faced heavy resistance from Arab Iranians, who fought like heroes. They did this because contrary to the expectations of Saddam they did not feel as an oppressed minority, but as Iranians like everyone else. BTW even Jewish and Christian Iranians defended their country:
Iran’s integrity has two reasons:
1) Iranians are proud of their ancient history and traditions no matter which faith they have.
2) The Iranian society is a very mixed society, which experienced invasions by Greeks, Arabs, Mongols, Turks, and hence it is very open. Actually this was also the case before these invasions. Cyrus the Great is mentioned as Messiah in the Bible and the Torah, because his, at that time unique, respect for other religions, in particular because he freed the Jews from the Babylonian captivity. I recommend to watch the excellent British documentary that I have linked on: https://theotheriran.com/history/ .
Iran has accepted Christian refugees (from the genocide carried out by the Ottoman empire), and also Sunni refugees (from Afghanistan). Iran was the country who had accepted the highest number of refugees since several years ago. Iran accepted most of them while suffering under an eight year long war, and under sanctions (weaker than they are today).
It is unthinkable that Sunni monarchies accept Shia refugees, they mostly do not even accept Sunni refugees (Palestinians). At some point Iran had around 3 million refugees and was still accepting Afghans no matter if Sunni or Shia, while Saudi Arabia had only around 50 refugees at the same time. Iran’s society is not into oppressing any other religion, but has always offered it’s helping hand to others. Iran’s regime is very bad but it has never oppressed Sunnis.
The only oppressed (by the government not by the society) religious minority in Iran are the Bahai, but even this oppression cannot be compared with the oppression of Shia in Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless it has to be stopped.
Even worse than Saudi Arabia’s monarchy are radical Sunnis (IS, Al Qaida/Nusra followers) who are very active in social networks and who see Iran as their biggest enemy since heretics (Shia) are worse to them than other people they see as infidels (Jews, Christians, moderate Sunnis, …). These people are after creating sectarian hatred in order to recruit more young Sunni Jihadists, who then for example come to fight Shias in Iraq and finally Iran, thinking that they have to defend their oppressed Sunni brothers.
Once in the ranks of IS and Al Qaida they radicalize even more. So the people that mostly distribute these rumors on Iran are mostly sectarian themselves and they would not just oppress Shia but rather kill them.
Now with all what I said Iran is not a paradise, not at all. The regime is a dictatorship that oppresses everyone no matter which faith. If you are politically active and oppose the regime you face prison or a even death sentence. It is even worse when you are a Shia, because then there will be no international outcry.
About the middle east and the current situation I can recommend everyone the following articles:
written by the well known journalist Patrick Cockburn, an Irish journalist who has been a Middle East correspondent since 1979 for the Financial Times and, presently, The Independent.
Among the most experienced commentators on Iraq, he has written four books on the country’s recent history. He won the Martha Gellhorn Prize in 2005, the James Cameron Prize in 2006 and the Orwell Prize for Journalism in 2009.
written by Pulitzer Prize awarded Seymour Hersh in 2007. It explains a lot of things that have happened later, and why and how the current tensions have been promoted.
This one is again about Bahrain, it shows how the Sunni monarchy is denying basic rights to its Shia majority and meanwhile is importing Sunnis from other countries to change the countries demography.
The imported Sunnis receive citizenship and rights higher than those of the Shia natives, who are not allowed to join police, military, …
Thanks again for your comment and warm words,
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