About the Author: Azzie Mansouri works in the Office of Foreign Assistance at the Department of State.
I was born in Tehran, Iran, in the early 1980s into a world where equal rights and laughter had just been silenced. My mother named me Azadeh, which translates to “freeperson,” as a subtle way of ensuring equal rights for women not be forgotten in the new regime.
Once, my mother was nearly beaten to death for voicing an opinion about a portrait of Khomeini — an Iranian religious leader — to her colleague outside their office building. As a senator in Parliament, my grandfather was in hiding during the early years of the Islamic revolution. Many of his colleagues were either executed or tortured. In order to leave the country, my grandfather left Tehran in the trunk of a vehicle and rode a donkey across the border to Turkey.
Prior to going into hiding, my family’s wealth was seized under the pretense of Islam. My mother and grandmother sold… more »