|Shai Sadr sits on the "Islamic" couch with a wine glass. Courtesy RFE/RL.|
by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters, RFE/RL
A prominent Iranian human rights lawyer and women's rights activist has created a controversy by posting a picture on social media that shows her sitting on a chair with Islamic motifs while holding a glass of wine.
The chair in the photo of Shadi Sadr is covered with a material used in Iran for events marking the Ashura, the martyrdom of Imam Hossein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. It is a work by Iranian artist Parastou Forouhar, whose parents were among intellectuals and political activists killed in the late 1990s by Intelligence Ministry agents.
Hard-line conservative Iranian media, including state-controlled television and the Fars news agency, which is affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), accused Sadr of insulting Islamic sanctities and disrespecting Islamic values.
Sadr, one of many activists and intellectuals who had to flee Iran to escape imprisonment in a crackdown after the 2009 presidential elections, told RFE/RL that the photo was not insulting and that she posted the photo to highlight the plight of nonbelievers in Iran.
"Shadi Sadr, the fugitive feminist and a so-called journalist who supports women's rights, has entered her pro-Western orientation into a new phase: insulting values and the holiest of the holy symbols of the Iranian nation; the symbol of the mourning for [Imam Hossein]," a state television report said.
Fars called Sadr's picture "an excuse to insult religious sanctity," while accusing her of questioning Islamic principles for years.
The news agency posted a statement by "a group of professors and law experts" calling for Sadr's extradition, trial, and punishment over what it said was her "antireligious" move.