Masih Alinejad, a leading Iranian dissident based in the US, has been put under 24-hour police protection in the UK after the Metropolitan police received credible threats to her life.
Alinejad has become one of the main amplifiers of the protests inside Iran, appearing at the UN and meeting European leaders such as France’s Emmanuel Macron and the Netherland’s Mark Rutte.
The Met, Alinejad said, told her “‘because of the level of the threats we are going to be with you and protect you everywhere you go. So give us your schedules, we have to know everything in advance to prepare close protection.’”
Alinejad said the protection was “quite shocking, because I know that the British are a little bit relaxed when it comes to death threats. Now, I believe that the level of the threat is very intense, and it’s very serious. And that shows the Islamic Republic actually challenging the UK government on UK soil.”
British police came to see her at her hotel room after she was interviewed by Piers Morgan this week.
“I’m not as scared for my life, I survived kidnapping plots,” she said. “I survived an assassination plot so I am not scared for my life at all. I dedicate my life to giving voice to voiceless people. This is my goal. But this is scary. This is scary that the free world is allowing the terrorist regime of Iran to make its decisions.”
Alinejad left Iran in 2009 and has been living in the US since 2014. She became an international figure when she launched a Facebook page inviting Iranian women to post pictures of themselves without a hijab.
With a social media following of more than 8 million, she describes herself “a channel for the voiceless”.
She is in the UK until Saturday to meet lawmakers and make the case for the proscription of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organisation.
Alinejad criticised European leaders who think there is any purpose in negotiating with Iran on a nuclear deal and sent out a warning they are being watched by the women of Iran. “Iranian people are sacrificing their life in the streets, facing guns and bullets, saying that the time for reform is over.”
She said the scale of the repression had been stepped up, including a spate of executions. “We cannot ask people to go to the street and get killed to understand that the revolution is alive. I know that in journalism there is a famous expression, that when it bleeds, it leads. But honestly, we don’t need to see blood in the streets to understand that the revolution is alive.”
She said street by street the women of Iran were showing the middle finger to the authorities trying to force them to wear the hijab. “I always compare the compulsory hijab to the Berlin Wall, but it is not about me now. It is about teenagers. There is the line in Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale: ‘They should have never given us uniforms if they didn’t want us to be an army.’ The women of Iran are taking off the uniform and telling the mullahs we are ending this gender apartheid. The teenagers are like teenagers everywhere – they are not going to be told by barbaric mullahs what music to hear and what to wear.”
There was only one subject she was reluctant to discuss – the state of the sometimes viciously divided external opposition. “Dictators were really good at dividing their own opposition, it’s not just us. Look at the Russian opposition, the Venezuelan opposition.”
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