Masih Alinejad: A Force To Be Reckoned With

The Dickey Center and the Dartmouth Political Union (DPU) student group hosted Iranian-American journalist and activist Masih Alinejad on February 8. As the second speaker in our Dissent & Democracy series spotlighting international dissidents and the first guest of the DPUs Democracy Summit initiative she wowed a full room of students, faculty and staff, including President Hanlon, making the case for an end to the oppression of women in Iran, and urging students to speak up for human rights.

You don't just hear Iranian American journalist and activist Masih Alinejad speak. You feel her presence, see her passion, and hear her case for political and human rights in Iran. She speaks from her experience growing up as a girl without freedom, now an international dissident who fled to the United States, but with millions of followers on social media, and a force behind the recent protests in her homeland. She still faces death threats, including one disclosed by US Attorney General Garland just last month

What we all saw during her conversation with Professor Andrew Simon of the Department of Middle Eastern Studies was courage, the embodiment of dissent: Ms. Alinejad has chosen to stand up fearlessly and speak truth to the power that is the mullahs of Iran. She  maintains that theirs is an insufferably oppressive regime, mandating that women wear the hijab in public and "keep their heads low, to be unobtrusive as possible, and to be meek," as she wrote in "The Wind in My Hair." 

But while Ms. Alinejad's arguments might have been convincing and her passion persuasive, it was perhaps even more rewarding to see students -- Iranian, Turkish and Afghani among them -- raise their voices, some to argue and challenge Ms. Alinejad on the future of Iran and on the need to respect Islam, others asking earnestly what they could do to make a difference for human rights. 

The Dickey Center has a history of hosting remarkable guests, many with a contagious conviction. But never before have we had a speaker break into song to bring across a message of defiance against authoritarianism in solidarity with the women whose cause she champions and bring an audience to tears. Ms. Alinejad did that, while engaging and connecting with Dartmouth students and faculty alike, making her case eloquently and convincingly: gender apartheid in Iran must end, and she for one will not shy away from doing what it takes to make it happen.

The full recording of Ms. Alinejad's presentation is online here, and photos here.

Bill Platt's article on Ms. Alinejad's visit for Dartmouth News is here,  and Heya Shah's write-up of the event for The Dartmouth student paper here.  

Learn more about the Dartmouth Political Union here.