Narges Mohammadi, born on 21 April 1972 in Zanjan, Iran, is a prominent figure in the realms of human rights activism, scientific pursuit, and feminist advocacy. With an illustrious background, she has made significant contributions to the fight for freedom, equality, and justice.
Mohammadi’s journey into activism began during her university years at Qazvin International University, where she pursued a degree in physics. Even then, her passion for social change was evident as she penned articles supporting women’s rights for the student newspaper. However, her outspoken views led to her arrest at meetings of the political student group Tashakkol Daaneshjuyi Roshangaraan (“Enlightened Student Group”). Despite facing hurdles, she remained undeterred.
Additionally, Mohammadi was a part of a mountain climbing group, showcasing her adventurous spirit. Sadly, her political engagements led to her exclusion from climbing activities. Undeterred, she channeled her energy into journalism, working for various reformist newspapers. Her insightful contributions culminated in the publication of a book titled “The Reforms, the Strategy, and the Tactics,” highlighting her analytical prowess and commitment to social reform.
In 2003, Mohammadi’s dedication to human rights found a significant platform when she joined the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), an organization helmed by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi. Over the years, she ascended to the role of vice president within the organization, further amplifying her influence and impact.
In her personal life, Mohammadi married fellow pro-reform journalist Taghi Rahmani in 1999. Their union, marked by shared ideals, became a source of strength amid adversity. Tragically, Rahmani faced multiple arrests, eventually leading him to seek refuge in France in 2012 after enduring 14 years of imprisonment. Despite the physical distance, Mohammadi persisted in her activism, advocating for human rights with unwavering determination.
A defining aspect of Mohammadi’s activism was her outspoken stance against the compulsory hijab in Iran. She emerged as a vocal proponent of mass feminist civil disobedience, challenging the oppressive dress code imposed on women. Her courage in opposing the hijab and chastity program of 2023, despite the risks, showcased her resilience and fearlessness.
However, Mohammadi’s relentless pursuit of justice came at a tremendous personal cost. In May 2016, she was sentenced in Tehran to a staggering 16 years’ imprisonment for her role in establishing and leading a human rights movement advocating for the abolition of the death penalty. Her incarceration did not break her spirit; instead, it served as a testament to her unwavering commitment to her cause.
Despite her incarceration, Mohammadi continued to shine a light on the plight of detained women, exposing instances of abuse within the prison system. Her courage and tenacity resonated on a global scale, earning her the admiration of many who admired her resilience in the face of adversity.
In a momentous turn of events, in October 2023, while still imprisoned, Mohammadi was awarded the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize. The accolade recognized her exceptional efforts in combating the oppression of women in Iran and her relentless fight for human rights and freedom for all. However, the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s condemnation of the Nobel committee’s decision highlighted the challenges she faced within her own homeland.
Narges Mohammadi’s story is one of indomitable courage, unwavering resolve, and a steadfast commitment to the pursuit of justice. Her life and work serve as an inspiration to countless individuals, reminding the world of the enduring power of the human spirit in the face of adversity.