Masih Alinejad

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Masih Alinejad
Masih Alinejad.jpg
Masih Alinejad in 2018
Masoumeh Alinejad-Ghomi

(1976-09-11) 11 September 1976 (age 42)
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, author, and political activist. 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 self-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 attended an undergraduate programme 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]

Voice of America Television Show[edit]

Since 2015, as a contractor for the Voice of America (Persian Service), Alinejad hosted a weekly 15-minute primetime show, called "Tablet", produced by Saman Arbabi. "With original video from inside Iran, Tablet profiles ordinary citizens and connects them with Americans through short interviews on common themes illustrating both similar and different experiences. The program also has a weekly "timeline report" tracing the development of issues such as the international women’s rights movement and relations between Washington and Tehran", the press release states.[10]


Chess championship boycott[edit]

In 2016, Alinejad launched a boycott campaign against the 2016 women's chess world championship, held in February 2017 in Tehran, Iran.[11] 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.[12]

Meeting with Trump administration officials[edit]

Masih Alinejad and Secretary of the State, Mike Pompeo
Mike Pompeo "thanked Ms. Alinejad for her bravery and continued dedication to speaking out on these issues and defending human rights in Iran." (4 February 2019)

In February 2019, Masih Alinejad met with top Donald Trump administration official Mike Pompeo.[13] US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino said Secretary of State Pompeo "thanked Ms. Alinejad for her bravery and continued dedication".[14] Alinejad said they met for 35 minutes, and said "Many Iranians want an end to the Islamic Republic".[13]

Journalist Azadeh Moaveni has argued that the Trump administration has exploited Iran's feminist movement, and specifically named Alinejad as a prominent leader.[15]


In a debate with American feminist, Linda Sarsour, on CNN, Alienejad said: "It's important if you care about human rights, women's rights, you cannot use the same tool which is the most visible symbol of oppression in the Middle East and say that this is a sign of resistance [in the United States]."[16]

Alinejad has been accused by some Iranians to be feeding Islamophobia by focusing on the Hijab[17], calling it the symbol of oppression[18], and occasionally identifying herself as anti-Hijab activist within right-wing circles.[19] She rejects being Islamophobic, but insists that it is the Sharia of Islam which scares her[20] and it is the Sharia laws which cause Islamophobia.[21]

She's called European female diplomats as "hypocrites" and has repeatedly attacked them for wearing a scarf during missions to Iran.[22]

Alinejad told the occasionally Baytown Sun's columnist, Emma Mcguire, while she was a reporter in Iran, Alinejad "was forced to marry a form of wedding in Iran known as 'temporary marriage' in order to get close enough to sources of news." She said it was a practice common among Iranian hot-headed female journalists.[23]

After the Christchurch mosque shooting in March 2019 in New Zealand, Alinejad criticised the county's prime minister Jacinda Ardern for wearing a scarf in sympathy and respect to the Muslim victims. She said she "felt that you are using one of the most visible symbols of oppression for Muslim women in many countries for solidarity, and it also broke my heart,” said Alinejad.[24] The UK tabloid Daily Mail praised the remarks and published a story titled "Muslim campaigners condemn New Zealand women for donning headscarves in solidarity with mosque shooting victims, saying: 'The hijab is NOT empowering for us'".


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.[25]

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. ^ "New VOA Persian Show Targets Young Viewers in Iran". VOA. Retrieved 2019-03-16.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ Nomani, Asra Q.; Alinejad, Masih (October 5, 2016). "The American chess champion challenging Iran's hijab fetish". Global Views. Washington Post.
  13. ^ a b "Pompeo Tells Iranian Rights Activist Of U.S. Support". Radio Farda. 5 February 2019. Archived from the original on 5 February 2019. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  14. ^ "Secretary Pompeo's Meeting With Iranian Women's Rights Activist Masih Alinejad". U.S. Department of State. Archived from the original on 2019-02-05. Retrieved 2019-02-05.
  15. ^ Moaveni, Azadeh (2018-07-09). "How the Trump Administration Is Exploiting Iran's Burgeoning Feminist Movement". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Archived from the original on 2018-12-15. Retrieved 2019-02-05.
  16. ^ CNN, Katy Scott. "Macy's decision to sell hijabs sparks debate among Muslim women". CNN. Retrieved 2019-03-16.
  17. ^ Ghattas, Kim. "Those Who Dare to Bare Their Hair". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 2019-03-23.
  18. ^ Women in the World (2016-02-10), Masih Alinejad: The "hijab is the most visible symbol of oppression", retrieved 2019-03-23
  19. ^ "Fox News: Iranian activist speaks out about treatment of women in Iran". Masihalinejad Media. 2018-08-10. Retrieved 2019-03-23.
  20. ^ "My Stealthy Freedom آزادی یواشکی زنان در ایران". Retrieved 2019-03-23.
  21. ^ Weltwoche. "The Menace of the Mullahs". Retrieved 2019-03-23.
  22. ^ "Masih Alinejad: Female politicians must challenge compulsory hijab". UN Watch. 2016-09-14. Retrieved 2019-03-23.
  23. ^ "Immigrant inspiring feminists worldwide | Opinion |". 2018-06-29. Archived from the original on 2018-06-29. Retrieved 2019-03-17.
  24. ^ "New Zealand women face praise and protests for donning the hijab". Reuters. 2019-03-26. Retrieved 2019-03-29.
  25. ^ 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]