Green Revolution: How artists turn political
"I have always been passionate about arts and literature, but politics? Never! I still don't think that I’m really political. But when there is no room for you to be that creative person you want to be, as a free mind, as a woman... what choice do you have?
They told me many times what I was doing was "haram", it means forbidden in accordance with Shia Law and thus prohibited: the way I played music, the poems I wrote, the art I was interested in.
It got much worse when I got to university. I was playing the Cello and a woman professor kept on telling me to sit more appropriately. 'How else should I play this instrument', I said. 'I have to open my legs for it!' And they kept on complaining about me not wearing the head scarf properly.
You can only take this sort of thing for a limited about of time. At some point, you have to break free or you’ll go crazy. My second degree was in archaeology where it got much worse: They taught us everything about the greatness of Islam and nothing about other cultures. It was racist, nationalist and everything of that sort.
I started complaining to the university's board and ended up issuing political statements about freedom of expression. This is when it was too dangerous for me to stay.
I came to Europe and started a book club with other young Iranians reading all the books that were banned in Iran.
On election day, 12th of June 2009, people in Iran finally discovered that they can actually not like something and not agree with what the government is giving them. They finally asked why. Why is there no free election? Why do men get two thirds in a bus when they are never taking it and women have to sit cramped together? It is the best thing that could have happened to us."