I was delighted to read Nesta Ramazani’s review of my book, “Female Warriors of Allah: Women and the Islamic Revolution” (Book Review, Jan. 22). Her judgments are particularly encouraging as they come from someone who is a recognized authority in the field of women’s studies in the Muslim world.
I must add, however, that Ramazani’s optimism about the decline of radicalism in Iran is premature. If a few Iranian politicians have shown a degree of moderation toward the West following the cease-fire in the Gulf, it does not mean that they have suddenly abandoned their ideological, political and religious convictions which a decade ago set the Iranian masses in motion against Western imperialism. Iranians are and will remain deeply embittered about the all too obvious military, political and moral support Western countries granted Iraq to enable it to win the war. The cautious attempts by the so-called pragmatists in Tehran to re-establish contacts with some European governments should therefore only be seen as an economic imperative for the reconstruction of a devastated country. Otherwise, nothing has changed. Anti-Western views and sentiments are being nurtured as before and perhaps even more rigorously at all levels of Iranian society today. Children who were born into the revolution receive ideological and Islamic tuition at schools before they are taught how to read and write. If you ask a child in the Islamic Republic whom he regards as his most threatening enemy he will say America, Britain and the Soviet Union. This type of indoctrination is unlikely to be shattered by a few meetings between the British and the Iranian foreign ministers. And as we have seen, Islamic extremism has continued to manifest itself in various ways in the last months, after everybody in the West thought Iran was definitively silenced through major military defeat in the Gulf war and brought to its knees.
Perhaps the most striking illustration of my viewpoint was the death sentence pronounced upon Salman Rushdie in recent days. Here one sees graphically just how passionately and unbendingly the followers of fundamentalism continue to uphold their faith that fired the Revolution. All who witnessed the protests in Tehran against Rushdie and Britain on television will have noticed the prominent presence of veiled women chanting their hatred.