Middle East

Faezeh Hashemi

Daughter of Reform

Faezeh Hashemi is the daughter of Iran's former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, and at 37 is a top contender for reelection to parliament. The mother of two is among the most popular pioneers of the reformist movement, and has called for women to unveil, ride bicycles, and run for president.

Hashemi is controversial¡ªand brave. She launched Iran's only women's daily, Zan (Woman), which was banned in April 1999 after it featured an interview with Farah Diba, the widow of the late Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

Although Hashemi favors change, she does not call for abandoning the values of the Islamic Republic altogether. These last few years show that there is no end to autocratic attitudes, she told Azra Dezham of Tehran's monthly Payame Emruz. Nevertheless, those attitudes are starting to change.

Relentless in her pursuit of women's rights and of reformist ideas in general, Hashemi predicted victory for the reformists in February's elections. "The [right is] keeping quiet because they see no reason to enter the fray," she was quoted in London's Mideast Mirror, "so long as they believe they will get what they want -- and that is for the reformists to shoot themselves in the foot."