Rahnavard & Soroush

"Top 100 Global Thinkers"

Foreign Policy: From the brains behind Iran's Green Revolution to the economic Cassandra who actually did have a crystal ball, they had the big ideas that shaped our world in 2009. Read on to see the 100 minds that mattered most in the year that was...

# 3. Zahra Rahnavard for being the brains behind Iran's Green Revolution and the campaign of her husband, opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi.

Political scientist and Reformer | Iran

Of all the critical moments in the Iranian presidential election that captured the world's attention this year, one stands out: On June 3, incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad publicly questioned the credentials of his opponent's wife, wondering in a televised debate if her Ph.D. in political science was legitimate. Furious, the 64-year-old Rahnavard staged a blazing, 90-minute news conference in which she accused the president of lying, debasing her sex, and betraying the Islamic Revolution. The attack galvanized the opposition and rejuvenated the campaign of her husband, Mir Hossein Mousavi.

Ahmadinejad should have known better. During and after the Islamic Revolution, Rahnavard had been an ardent Islamist who worked to discredit secular feminist groups. But years later, when the revolution failed to yield dividends for women, she changed course and became a driving force behind the nascent feminist movement in Iran. After she was placed on the High Council of Cultural Revolution, the body issued its first declaration in 1992 advancing women's rights. She was later fired as chancellor of Tehran's exclusively female Al-Zahra University for inviting feminist lawyer and Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi to speak.

This year, Rahnavard's rage at Ahmadinejad drove her husband's campaign. She began stumping with him and organizing supporters through rallies, Facebook, Twitter, and text messages. Campaign posters that depicted the couple holding hands subtly hinted at the liberal reforms Mousavi would make in office; she has more explicitly said these would involve greater democratization, a stronger role for women in the cabinet, and a relaxing of Iran's notoriously discriminatory gender laws.

#45. Abdolkarim Soroush for pitting his theological might against Iran's Islamist regime.

religious philosopher | Institute for Epistemological Research | Iran

A one-time philosopher at Tehran University, Soroush has perhaps done more than any other thinker to reconcile Islam with democracy. Drawing on ideas that range from the Quran to Karl Popper, Soroush argues that no individual can ever have an infallible understanding of God's law. Therefore, people should work to advance God's aims, which must be based on the betterment of humankind. This philosophy is a direct challenge to the Islamic Republic, which bases its legitimacy on the God-given right of its preferred Islamic scholars to rule. This year, Soroush sharpened his attacks on Iran's religious establishment in a blistering open letter to the supreme leader titled "Religious Tyranny Is Collapsing: Rejoice!" As resentment over the stolen election still simmers, Soroush's ideas offer Iran a way forward that establishes an Islamic foundation for a true, representative democracy.

Reading list: The Theological Aspect of Reform Judaism, by Max L. Margolis; Zen in the Art of Archery, by Eugen Herrigel.

Wants to visit: Egypt

Best idea, worst idea: Just (as in fair) liberty, not just (as in only) liberty.

Gadget: None. I'm a little bit old-fashioned.


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Iraneh Azad

People Like Rahnavard and Her husband were the problem

by Iraneh Azad on

They were the segment of society which knew better than everyone and had no problems in mixing religion and state when they got rid of the shah. They are the cause of our misery. I hope they have learned their lesson well. I am sorry that their innocent children will pay the price for their mistakes 30 years ago.


:) Inferiority complex of Ommaties

by SamSamIIII on


contrary to their daily anti west rants , Reformists bani abbasss crowd  just like their hard liner cousins Bani ommayeh have so much of an inferiority complex in relation to the west or what they affectionatly ;) refer to as white men/white people . So much so that they search/dig/smell/lick  & look at any s**t hole & crap bowl any where in the so called white man kingdom just so to find one positive note about one member of their ommatie tribe in order to get that cozy feeling of acknowledgment and affirmation by the same westerner who dont give a hoot about their bedoine existance dead or alive . What a pathetic display of javad in farang syndrom . Now if the same title was given by a lets say, Irani or Turkish, Afghani , Pakistani or chinese paper would these folks celebrate it like an Oscar..talkin about Oscar !! dont get me started on Caan,s , Oscar and Ommatie phoney style film making to appease & be recognized by the you know who crowd...da la laaam





Path of Kiaan Resurrection of True Iran Hoisting Drafshe Kaviaan //iranianidentity.blogspot.com //www.youtube.com/user/samsamsia


way before Soroush, Rahnavard, and other

by Fair on

anti education "thinkers", I would put the following:


1-Mahmoud Vahidnia, and other student leaders (Batebi, Mohammadi, etc.)

2-Shirin Ebadi for her work in human rights

3-Simin Behbahani and other Iranian women who have fought for women's rights and human rights

4-Akbar Ganji- for his work defending human rights and democratic ideals.

5-Mohsen Kadivar, Mohammad Ali Abtahi, and other religious intellectual reformers who (as far as I know) did not play a role in closing the door on people wanting to obtain an education

6-all the dead people killed by anti education forces for being advocates of the above ideals- Shahpur Bakhtiar, Dariush and Parvaneh Forouhar, Saidi Sirjani, Mohammad Mokhtari, etc. etc. etc.


These are people who never acted as "thought police" for anybody, and dedicated their lives to winning the most basic human right- freedom of speech and belief.


And if it weren't for the anti education Pol Pot thought police like Rahnavard and Soroush, we would have many more candidates. But this is good already.




What does this have to do

by benross on

What does this have to do with Trita?  your obsession with Dr Parsi is just ridiculous.

Is it a question or comment? 



by IRANdokht on

What does this have to do with Trita?  your obsession with Dr Parsi is just ridiculous.



Who'd be a good candidate for an Iranian "thinker" in 2009?

by Anonymouse on

Everything is sacred.


Thanks, but no thanks

by Rostam on

Let's not forget that 30 years ago, the same type of people picked "Khomeini", yes the same blood thirsty, murderous and barbaric Khomeini, as "Man of The Year".

Now they are picking our "thinkers". Yeah right. Thanks, but no thanks.

How low we must have fallen to have Zahra and Soroush as our top thinkers. Iran has certainly hit the bottom of the barrel.

But if it makes anyone feel any better, at least we know that we can't possibly sink any lower.


Rahnavard wasn't khemer rouge She is the 3rd top thinker in 2009

by Anonymouse on

Everything is sacred.


Whether she is a global

by benross on

Whether she is a global thinker or not, Zahra Rahnavard played a pivotal role in shaping the green movement and engineering her husband's elections campaign, helping him come out of the shadows after 20 years of self-imposed isolation and becoming a giant opponent for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

A brave woman, undoubtedly, but a heck of a reactionary one! Actually she was way ahead of Moosavi -and much more specific- in sending messages against the radicalization of the movement after the uprising.

But this kind of recognition is what you get when you leave Trita lobby for you! 

Darius Kadivar

Khaleh Sooskeh ;0)

by Darius Kadivar on


How much has Rahnavard (Zohreh Kazemi) really changed course?

by Mehrban on

she still talks about Imam Khomeini and she still wears a black chador which she did not wear prior to marrying Mousavi.  To have dismantled a perfectly good educational system just to Islamisize it?!  is this the great thinker we are celebrating?  give me a break.  A great thinker she is not a great manipulator maybe.  I am sorry, I just can't buy it.  Many women after the revolution started wearing the black chador to buy themselves positions, valeur, etc......

Veiled Prophet of Khorasan

Cultural Revolution

by Veiled Prophet of Khorasan on

When I hear that word I shudder. It is often tantamount to "Cultural Genocide". Basically a group of fanatics imposing their version of cultural straight jacket on all the people. It is one of the most heinous acts of psychological torture.What gave them the right to demand we change our culture to fit their ideas? Who the heck were they?

Anyone involved in it is unfit to  serve in any position of leadership. They sure won't get my vote.  In this movement as others have pointed out "People" are the force not some leader. We rely too much on leaders. And we  don't need any more leaders like them.

Maryam Hojjat

Fair, Bravo to you

by Maryam Hojjat on

I really like your arguments in your two comments.   



The movement is about the people not the leaders

by Fair on

The "leaders" are just Johnny-come-latelies.

Irandokht, I am sorry you, like all our generation were victim of
these anti education people. This crime was nothing short of Pol Pot
who put people in reeducation camps and punished people who were

I applaud Rahnavard and Soroush for "changing course". Better late than never.

But that is no comfort to the hundreds of thousands of innocent, brilliant, hopeful young Iranians whose future was shamelessly denied by them. They didn't have the luxury of "changing course", did they. Their alternatives at the time was the war front or unemployment.

Perhaps it would help greatly if Rahnavard and Soroush publicly apologized for their roles in this and took responsibility. Have they? Look at Montazeri's stance on the hostage taking for example.

This is different than Ebadi's Nobel prize- Ebadi's hands were clean and she was always on the side of human rights.

Let us not forget- the "Green" movement as it is called now is NOT about any of its leaders, it is about the millions of people in Iran who want change, and whose voices were suffocated for 30 years, yes, at times by people like Rahnavard and Soroush and Mousavi and the current Green movement leadership. AN even pointed this out in his debates with Mousavi. The fact that these people are the first "establishment" people to acknowledge the aspirations and demands of our people does not make them the leaders of the Green movement in my mind. Rather, they are the facilitators of the Green movement, and I am glad they joined our side. This is their chance to redeem themselves in front of the Iranian people. I invite all other IR forces to do the same.

But that does not make them innocent, and certainly not worthy of the title "thinker".

Irani Meemirad

Zellat Nemipazirad.


Get used to hearing this more.







Yes yes imagine what a thorn this award is to Ahmadi & Khamenei!

by Anonymouse on

The more awards the opposition receives in the international arena, the bigger the thron in Ahmadi & Khameni's eyes.  Hopefully they'll rack up more awards by the end of the year.

Remember the zepertea Ahmadi had at one time opened an office to "publish" his views and thoughts.  Remember that?! Nobody gave sh*t about his "thoughts" and he hasn't received any recognition, other than by Chavez and maybe Raul

Everything is sacred.

Shifteh Ansari

Zahra Rahnavard

by Shifteh Ansari on

Whether she is a global thinker or not, Zahra Rahnavard played a pivotal role in shaping the green movement and engineering her husband's elections campaign, helping him come out of the shadows after 20 years of self-imposed isolation and becoming a giant opponent for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Whether we think she is worthy or not, inside Iran, Iranians understand the significance of her winning this award.  Islamic Republic of Iran has done its best to discredit the Mousavi campaign through attacking Zahra Rahnavard's character and credentials.  Her brother and her nephew were one of the first people arrested after the June uprising as a tool to intimidate her and Mousavi into backing off.

I believe there might have been better candidates for this award, but this doesn't mean that her significant role in helping Iranians stand up to IRI should be underestimated.

Visit Iranian news websites to see how this has angered IRI thugs today.  


Rahnavard (like JJ and many others) "changed course".

by Anonymouse on

Many in the green movement changed course.  The more people like Rahnavard, Mousavi and others change course, the better for the Iranian people as a whole.

This changing course by Mousavi was debated in great details during the elections this summer.  I think we should give them the benefit of the doubt and encourage others to change course like them.

Everything is sacred.



by IRANdokht on

I couldn't agree with you more! As a victim of their cultural revolution, I have a hard time getting over the impact they had on my life and many others like me. Rahnavard's role was actually very big in enghelab farhangi, especially when it came to the girls in universities. She was involved with the students paksaazi.

I support the green movement because of the Iranian demonstrators who have risked their lives and safety and spoke up against the dictatorship, but I still hold a grudge against some of the individuals who ruined our lives and I can't in good conscience call them thinkers, intellectuals or progressive.

good call



Person who closed Universities for 3 years

by Fair on

It is beyond me how a person who closed the doors of all universities in Iran for 3 years as part of a "cultural revolution", saying in effect "to hell with you" to a generation of Iranians at a time when they could not leave the country and get an education elsewhere, is called a "thinker". I love it when people like Soroush who got the opportunity to go the west, study and get a great education, can come back and tell an entire generation "no that is not good- put your lives and dreams and futures on hold while I decide what education is good for you and what you can handle".

As far as Mrs. Rahnavard, I just don't know enough to say whether she deserves this or not, but it does not make me confident when I read that she was also on the "High Council for Cultural Revolution".

To me, this "thinking" is no different than Taliban "thinking", which treats adults like incapable animals that must be exposed only to "the right" education so they don't become "misguided".

To these people I say in return "To hell with you and your "thinking".


What a shame.




Rahnavard was Ahmadi's worst nightmare She deserves it! Congrats

by Anonymouse on

Everything is sacred.


A brave soul or just a "Lechek besar"?

by jasonrobardas on

    She may just be a " lechek be sar" fighting valiantly for her husband's position of authority . She does not fit into any humanist or femminist categopry . liberation statrts from one's own self .

Maryam Hojjat

Thanks Ali P.

by Maryam Hojjat on

for showining mentality of this woman through your comment.

This woman with the way she talks & dresses is embarrassment for IRANIAN women!


Darius Kadivar

N'Importe Quoi ! ...Its seems its the Nobel Prize Syndrome . ;0)

by Darius Kadivar on

If they had chosen Trita Parsi I would have said it was a Fair Choice But This Khaleh Sooskeh ? ;0)

It Seems its the Nobel Prize Syndrom  or is it the Swine Flu that drives the commitee Tikitiboo ?



Shifteh Ansari

حمله حامیان احمدی نژاد به زهرا رهنورد

Shifteh Ansari

From Rooz Online: 



انتخاب دکتر زهرا رهنورد به عنوان سومین متفکر تاثیر گذار سال 2009 از
سوی مجله فارین پالیسی، خشم حامیان محمود احمدی نژاد  را برانگیخت. در
همین راستانشریات وابسته به جناح راست با چاپ مطالب یکدستی از این انتخاب 
به عنوان "شوخی مجله امریکایی" یاد و دور دیگری از حمله به خانم رهنورد را
آغاز کردند.

روزنامه رسالت در مطلبی با عنوان يادداشتي درباره
"زهرا رهنورد": "روشنفكرترين زن ايراني!" به توهین به میرحسین موسوی و
زهرا رهنورد پرداخته و نوشته است: "حسي كه پس از شنيدن اين خبر برانگيخته
شد، ما را ياد شنيدن خبر اهداي جايزه صلح نوبل به شيرين عبادي انداخت و
ياد اين جمله كه "فقط انگل ها به جهل و تعصب توده دامن می‌زنند"؛
و تا وقتي موجود جانداري باشد كه محمل زيست و تكثير انگل باشد، انگل به
حيات خود ادامه مي دهد. انگل ها موجوديت قابل ذكري ندارند. آنها از جهل و
هيجان متعصبانه‌ي مردم ارتزاق مي كنند. حيات آنها بالعرض است و تا وقتي
محملي براي رواج جهل باشد، به حياتشان ادامه مي دهند. سالهاست روشنفكري
مغرور و متبختر ايراني در كنج تاريك جهل از بدن بخشي از اقشار روشنفكرزده
ارتزاق كرده و هرگاه فرصتي يافته، مدعي رهبري توده شده است."

یادداشت روزنامه رسالت به طور همزمان در سایت رجانیوز، متعلق به فاطمه رجبی هم منتشر شده است.


Read the rest here: //www.roozonline.com/persian/news/newsitem/article////107/-0d52d589f7.html 


Ali P.

Article by Shokooh Mirzadegi on Ms. Rahnavard

by Ali P. on

اما، در همان حال، ايشان، در بيان سير تفکر خود، نشان می دهند که سيری
کاملاً قهقرایی و متضاد داشته و از شريعتی به آخوندهایی رسيده اند که
شريعتی را خارج از دين می ديدند. ايشان، در تازه ترين مصاحبه خود با
«چلچراغ» می گويند: «دکتر شریعتی و شهید مطهری و آیت‌الله طالقانی مرا جذب
خودشان کردند. و دیری نگذشت که امام خمینی (ره) را شناختم...»

و بالاخره ايشان نگاه خود به يک «حکومت ايده آل اسلامی» را در گفتگو با يک خبرنگار اين گونه بازگو می کنند:
رهنورد: «برای
من ترک دنیای آزادی هنر، فرهنگی و روشنفکری سخت است و در هیچ شرایطی آن را
ترک نخواهم کرد و تلاش می‌کنم، و موسوی هم بر آن است که دولت فرهنگی ایجاد
کند اما اگر سیاست را هنر بدانیم مساله فرق می‌کند»
خبرنگار: «ولی سیاست را هنر نمی‌دانیم. همانطور که می‌دانید سیاست خیلی وقت‌ها با توطئه و تزویر همراه بوده است».
رهنورد: «سیاست، چنان که گفتید، گاهی همراه با تزویر و توطئه است و این در
کنتراست زیادی با هنر قرار می‌گیرد که سراسر زلالی و پاکی است. هنر
نمی‌تواند توطئه را بپذیرد، در حالی که در سیاست قدم به قدم باید توطئه
بچینی. به عبارتی مبتنی بر "گیم تئوری" یا تئوری بازی است. در نتیجه سیاست
و هنر معمولاً در تقابل با یکدیگر قرار می‌گیرند، مگر آن که سیاست هم به
پاکی هنر شود.
خبرنگار: «می‌شود؟»
رهنورد: «اگر حضرت علی (ع) بر مسند امور باشد، می‌شود».
خبرنگار: «فعلاً که حضرت بر مسند امور نیستند و شما هنرمندان می‌خواهید امور را در دست بگیرید، پاسخ من چیست؟ می‌شود؟
رهنورد: «ما هم به حضرت علی (ع) و حضرت زهرا (س) تآسی می‌کنیم و از خداوند
یاری می‌طلبیم که خطر لغزش به تزویر و ریا را از ما دور کند».



Jahanshah Javid

Not exactly

by Jahanshah Javid on

How did they come up with Zahra Rahnavard? She has been influential since the last presidential elections, but the third most influential thinker in the world she is not. Not even close. It seems the people who gathered this list wanted to include someone interesting to represent the Green Movement. Too bad because it has put a brave and honorable figure in a position that only raises questions, not praise.