Voice of America Iranian-American Host Ali Nejad Named Times Woman of the Year

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Voice of America's Iranian-American host Ali Nejad named Time's Woman of the Year
Time magazine on Thursday (March 3) named Iranian human rights activist and Voice of America (VOA) host Masih Alinejad among its 12 of the year's One of the women in recognition of her contribution to women's rights in her native Iran.

Time said in a statement that the women "come from all over the globe and have made a significant impact in their respective communities and fields."

Executive editor Naina Bajekal and senior editor Lucy Feldman said the list "brings attention to , examining the most exciting forms of influence."

Ahmadinejad told VOA on Thursday that she did not know "whether it is better to be happy or not".

She said: "Under normal circumstances, being a woman from a very small village in northern Iran should bring joy and happiness to being named to Time's Women of the Year list. But these days, these conditions in Iran, These are not normal times for us," she said, referring to the violence and oppression experienced by women in Iran.

Alinejad has been in exile since 2009. When "Time" talked about the reason for the list, it mentioned her support for the anti-government protests in Iran.

The demonstrations began last September after the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, in police custody after she was accused of failing to comply with Iran's strict dress code for women for not wearing a headscarf properly.

The protests are said to pose the biggest threat to the Iranian regime led by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in years. Alinejad told TIME that "Iranian women were his worst enemy."

She told VOA that she dedicated TIME's honor to "the brave Iranian women who stood shoulder to shoulder with Iranian women." And the brave Iranian men who said 'no' to the Islamic Republic".

Others named Time's Woman of the Year in 2023 include Somali boxer and refugee advocate Ramla Ali, reproductive rights activist Verónica Cruz Sánchez from Mexico, Ukrainian Olena Shevchenko, co-founder of Insight, a nonprofit that has been helping women and members of the LGBTQI community during the Russian invasion.

Alinejad has reported on human rights abuses and corruption within the Iranian government and has led a social media campaign against Iran's law requiring women to wear the hijab.

Her work made her the target of a criminal plot to kidnap and forcibly return her to Iran , and she has faced at least one murder attempt, both with direct ties to the Iranian government.

In 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice charged four Iranian citizens, alleged Iranian intelligence workers, in connection with the kidnapping plot.

In August 2022, the FBI arrested a man armed with an assault rifle who lingered outside Alinejad's home for two days and at one point tried to enter her home.

A congressional bill — the Masih Alinejad Harassment and Unlawful Targeting Act — covers measures to sanction those who act on behalf of Tehran and harass and spy on Iranians abroad , the targets of harassment and surveillance include journalists and human rights activists.

Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland said in a statement to VOA earlier this year: "This bill imposes appropriate consequences on all attempts to limit the ability of Iranian citizens to exercise free speech and Demonstrates America's commitment to supporting the free speech of the Iranian people." Cardin co-sponsored the bill with Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.

Alinejad previously told VOA that she receives death threats on an almost daily basis simply because she gives a platform to women who just want to live a normal 21st century life.

"I'm just doing my job. Just being a reporter is a crime in the eyes of the Islamic Republic," she said.

Media analysts say Iran is one of the most censored countries in the world. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists noted that more than 90 journalists — many of them women — have been detained for reporting since the Iran protests erupted. Some were later released, but dozens remain in custody.

Speaking about being named Time's Woman of the Year, Alinejad told VOA: "I wanted to use this opportunity to echo the voices of brave Iranian women who are leading one of the most progressive revolutions. They have the courage to say 'We Lost everything, but not lost hope.'”

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