Canada’s first lady plays new kind of hostess – fighting for Iranian women

Laureen Harper is stepping out of her comfort zone and into the complicated world of human rights.

the prime ministerial wives who preceded her, Mrs. Harper has tread
carefully, avoiding contentious issues and controversial causes.

she is seen lending her name and considerable energies to arts galas,
animal welfare issues – and the farm girl from Turner Valley, Alta., has
been known to milk cows for charity and carve a mean pumpkin for the
local kids’ trick or treating at 24 Sussex Dr. on Halloween.

But the plight of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the Iranian woman who
was sentenced to death by stoning for alleged adultery, was different.
Her circumstances compelled Mrs. Harper to move out from behind the
curtain of safe causes and into the realm of geopolitics.

Tuesday, Mrs. Harper played host at the Prime Minister’s official
residence to a roundtable of activists from the Iranian community,
human-rights experts and a handful of journalists. She was joined by
Heather Reisman, the CEO of Indigo Books and Music, who launched a
petition last summer to save Ms. Ashtiani.

For two hours, the 14-member group brainstormed about ways to keep the spotlight on Ms. Ashtiani’s case.

has strong views on all sorts of issues, but she normally suppresses
them so as not to give rise to media stories,” said… >>>

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