Masih Alinejad

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Masih Alinejad
Masih Alinejad in VOA Persian.png
Masih Alinejad in 2018
BornMasoumeh Alinejad-Ghomi
(1976-09-11) 11 September 1976 (age 42)
Ghomikola, Babol, Iran
ResidenceBrooklyn, New York City
EducationOxford Brookes University
OccupationJournalist and author
Years active2001–present
Spouse(s)Kambiz Foroohar

Masoumeh "Masih" Alinejad-Ghomi (Persian: مسیح علی‌نژاد‎, born 11 September 1976 in Ghomikola, Babol) is an Iranian American journalist and author. Alinejad currently works as a presenter/producer at VOA Persian Service, a correspondent for Radio Farda, a frequent contributor to Manoto television, and a contributing editor to IranWire.

Alinejad is well known for her criticism of Iranian authorities.[1] She now lives in exile in New York City, and has won several awards, including a human rights award from UN Watch's 2015 Geneva Summit for Human Rights, the Omid Journalism Award from the Mehdi Semsar Foundation, and a "Highly Commended" AIB Media Excellence Award.[2]


Alinejad was born as Masoumeh Alinejad, but uses the first name "Masih" (Persian word anointed or Messiah), which is the title of Jesus of Nazareth in Islam and Christianity. Alinejad was politically active from a young age, and was arrested in 1994 for producing leaflets critical of the Government. Alinejad began her career in journalism in 2001 with Hambastegi daily, and then worked for Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA). Papers, including Shargh, Bahar, Vaghaye, Ettefaghiye, Ham-Mihan, and Etemad Melli, have also published her articles. During the sixth and seventh parliament, Alinejad was the parliamentary reporter. In 2005, she wrote an article suggesting that government ministers had claimed they received pay cuts, they were actually receiving considerable sums of money as "bonuses" for everything from serving religious duties to ringing in the New Year. The article generated lots of controversy, and led to her dismissal from the parliament.[3][4]

In 2008, she wrote a highly controversial article in Etemad-e Melli daily, called "Song of the Dolphins", where she compared Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's followers to hungry dolphins that make sounds and perform entertaining acts to grab a morsel of food from their trainer. Some people regarded the article as very offensive towards the president and the people, and eventually, Mehdi Karroubi, the director of the paper, had to apologise for the article.[5]

In the summer of 2009, during her stay in the United States, Alinejad tried very hard to have an interview with Barack Obama; however, she was refused the interview, although she had been granted a visa based on having an interview with Obama. Her visa expired, and she had to return to England. While in the United States, she participated in some Iranian protests, and delivered a speech in one on in San Francisco, where she said, addressing the government authorities of Iran, "We have trembled for thirty years, now it is your turn to tremble." Her interview with Voice of America was shown together with parts of the videos she had made, called "A Storm of Fresh Air". In 2010, she and a group of Iranian writers and intellectuals established "IranNeda" foundation. After the presidential election in Iran in 2009, she published a novel called "A Green Date".[6]

Alinejad graduated in 2011 with a degree in Communication, Media, and Culture from Oxford Brookes University.[7]

My Stealthy Freedom[edit]

Alinejad before removing her hijab after immigrating to the United States

In 2014, Alinejad launched My Stealthy Freedom (also known as Stealthy Freedoms of Iranian Women), a Facebook page that invites Iranian women to post pictures of themselves without a hijab. The page quickly attracted international attention, and has garnered hundreds of thousands of likes.[8]

In 2015, the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, which is run by UN Watch, gave her its women's rights award for "giving a voice to the voiceless and stirring the conscience of humanity to support the struggle of Iranian women for basic human rights, freedom, and equality".[9]

Alinejad has said she is not opposed to the hijab, but believes it should be a matter of personal choice. In Iran, women who appear in public without a hijab risk being arrested.[8]

Women's chess games controversy[edit]

In 2016, Alinejad launched a boycott campaign against the 2016 women's chess world championship, held in February 2017 in Tehran, Iran.[10] The campaign was incited by Nazí Paikidze, a Georgian American chess player. Paikidze refused to attend world championships in Tehran because according to the Iranian law, the players had to wear hijabs. Alinejad supported the act, and co-wrote an op-ed with Asra Nomani in Washington Post.[11]

The boycott drew strong criticism from some Iranian feminists and female chess players toward Alinejad. Most critics argued that the boycott was counter-productive and harmed the very Iranian women who had fought to get permission from the Iranian government to do professional sports. Others found aspects of "White Saviorism" in the campaign's language and framing.[12][13]

VOA Contract[edit]

As a contractor for the Persian service of the VOA, Alinejad was paid $61,250 for her weekly programs of Tablet. VOA Persian Service.[14] For the past two years, she has earned $85,600 a year, (a total of $171,200) for her programs at VOA.[14]


Alinejad's memoir, The Wind in my Hair, dealing with her journey from a tiny village in northern Iran to becoming a journalist and creating an online movement that sparked the nationwide protests against compulsory hijab was published by Little Brown in 2018.[15]

She has published four books in Persian:

  • Tahasson - which describes the political turmoil/challenges created when the "Sixth Iranian Parliament" went on strike.
  • Taj-e-Khar (The Crown of Thorn) - a Novel that is now being translated into English. It refers to the passion of the Christ and the crown of thorns placed on his head by the Romans.
  • I am Free - which deals with women's issues in Iran, published in Germany because of the banning by the Islamic Culture and Guidance Ministry in Iran.
  • Gharar Sabz (Green Rendezvous) - which deals with post-2009 Presidential election fraud violence. Book was published in Germany because of the banning by the Islamic Culture and Guidance Ministry in Iran.


  1. ^ Morris, Cheryl (November 1, 2007). "How Masih Alinejad is paying the price for confronting Iran's leaders". New Internationalist. Retrieved July 26, 2010.
  2. ^ "Radio Farda and Radio Free Afghanistan Honored By AIB". Pressroom. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. November 7, 2013. Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  3. ^ Morris, Cheryl. "Masih Alinejad on the cost of confronting Iran's patriarchal leaders". New Internationalist. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  4. ^[dead link]
  5. ^ Siamdoust, Nahid (7 May 2008). "'Jesus' vs. Ahmadinejad". Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  6. ^ "Speakers: Masih Alinejad". Striving for Human Rights. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  7. ^ "Brookes student speaks on BBC World Service". Archived from the original on February 21, 2014. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
  8. ^ a b Dehghan, Saeed Kamali (12 May 2014). "Iranian women post pictures of themselves without hijabs on Facebook". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 February 2015.
  9. ^ Dehghan, Saeed Kamali (24 February 2015). "Iranian woman wins rights award for hijab campaign". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 February 2015.
  10. ^ Wootson Jr, Cleve R. (October 6, 2016). "'I will NOT wear a hijab': U.S. chess star refuses to attend world championships in Iran". Washington Post. Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  11. ^ Nomani, Asra Q.; Alinejad, Masih (October 5, 2016). "The American chess champion challenging Iran's hijab fetish". Global Views. Washington Post.
  12. ^ Moaveni, Azadeh (October 7, 2016). "Your Boycott Won't Help Iranian Women". Opinion. New York Times. Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  13. ^ Ghavami, Ghoncheh (October 13, 2016). "Who benefits from a chess championship boycott? Not Iranian women". Opinion. The Guardian. Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  14. ^ a b Masih Alinejad Government Contracts
  15. ^ Zakaria, Rafia (July 3, 2018). "The Woman Whose Hair Frightens Iran". The New York Times (review).
External video
Activist Masih Alinejad fights against the compulsory hijab in Iran, Matter Of Fact With Stan Grant, ABC News

External links[edit]