Caroline Vigneaux – Free Nasrin Sotoudeh


It's the beginning of summer 2018. I'm in Isfahan, Iran. I sip a refreshing Spritz, bask in the sun after a fascinating visit of the titanic palace Ali Qapou. It's not my drink that gets me drunk – I need a little more – but the whirlwind of memories I've just accumulated over the past few days. What a beauty ! And that we feel small in front of so much History! 21st century Iran vibrates at the same pace as seventeenth century Persia, animated by a thousand and one colors.

In front of me, my friend fanned out of the hand while raising her sunglasses on her skull; they drown in her dense brown hair. She smiles at me and stands up to look at Naghsh-e Djahan Square. I observe it. Nasrin's profile is an exact reflection of her character: her straight nose, her projecting chin, her conquering forehead … She is a determined woman, forward looking, hopeful. The kind of people we welcome to know, because to see it being, to observe it act as an inexhaustible source of inspiration.

Me neither, I'm not exhausted. Despite the kilometers traveled, from the ruins of Persepolis to the Kaluts desert, I am contaminated by the contagious energy of Nasrin. Together, we lost ourselves in the largest bazaar in the world, in Tehran, among the bright fabrics, borne by the heady smell of tanned leather and spices. Together, we admired the black rock in the desert of Dasht-e Lut, the dunes as far as the eye could see … Together, we breathed the fresh air of the mountain, above the red village of Abyaneh.

To go further, read our file "Persia: awakening of a civilization"

She stretches, takes a sip of tea. "By the way, that's it! Iran is registered on the UN Commission on the Status of Women! You think you can talk about it in your show in France? We are drinking at the success she has been hoping for so many years. From her beginnings as a lawyer, Nasrin defended human rights, and women's rights. A few months earlier, she successfully pleaded to defend her fellow citizens who claimed the right to go out without being veiled.

Yes, this summer of 2018 was really the best of all. The dream vacation. Or rather, the dream holidays.

Because I will probably never see all these wonders that Iran reserves. I certainly will not have the opportunity to meet Nasrin Sotoudeh either. In the summer of 2018, she was not on a terrace, hair in the wind, to sunbathe. She was arrested on 13 June and sentenced to 144 lashes. And, incidentally, 38 years in prison.

His crime? She showed her hair; to defend the right of Iranian women to do so. And it's a crime. In a country that had banned the wearing of the veil in 1935. In a modern country that shone, there is little, by the quality of his university.

Today, in 2019, Iran vibrates at the same pace as Persia in the seventeenth century: animated by a thousand and one injustices. A woman will be whipped, one hundred and forty-eight times, by men. Because she demands equality. Because she defends human rights. Because she dreams of freedom. Because she practices her profession: lawyer.

To all those who are still wondering what feminism can do, imagine that you are tied to a black square of people, before a crowd stretching as far as the eye can see, that you tear off your shirt. Imagine the leather penetrating your skin, the first bite. Violence. Suffering. The horror. Screams. Your body ravaged. And your executioner sitting back in a smile, raising his arm again. Imagine it. One hundred and forty-eight times.

Can we only survive one hundred and forty-eight lashes? I do not know. I can not believe that such barbarism is possible in the same world where I live, who am free to express myself as I wish, free to do a job. I, who every evening, on stage, throws on the fly words that would earn me a certain performance over there.

Then there is a time for words, and a time for action.

Here are the words: FREE NASRIN SOTOUDEH.

Here is the action: SIGN THE PETITION.


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