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Camping With The Basij

Goldokhtar, a member of the Basij force and blogger, writes about her experience attending a Basij camp in the city of Mashhad:

A week has past since we attended the religious-cultural camp, "Verses of Civilization," set up by the Basij students in Mashhad. We, a total of 30 instructors, had to take responsibility for about 400 elite Basiji girls.

What shocked me most was the presence of these girls in such a large number, most of whom had performed outstandingly in the country's pre-university exams.

The objective behind this routine for the past three years has been to introduce the children to the university atmosphere and familiarize them with it in every possible manner -- both the cultural and political aspects.

There were speeches and guidelines set for them that could not only prove useful for just them, but for the country as well.

At the opening ceremony on the first day, Mr. Vahidi delivered a speech about objectives and prosperity. It was quite interesting for me, for instance when he said, "Never give in and say I cannot do this. Always set a demanding objective for yourself and dedicate yourself toward fulfilling your goal. Never use the excuse of being a girl for your hopelessness."

He was successful in proving his point to us with all the examples he delivered.

The group that I was responsible for might not have been perfect in its appearance, but once we got into a discussion, I found that every one of them was filled with apprehension. And they all possessed the intellect of a true Basij!

According to Ms. Shariiatmadari, the head of the instructors' group, being a Basij isn't only about having a beard or covering oneself in a long veil. A Basij is someone whose mere presence provokes fear for the enemies of the country and the Islamic world. (Though this is only one of the undeniable qualities of a Basij.)

It shouldn't be left unsaid that I believe that the female level of intellect is higher than that of males. As women do not have as much access to places such as libraries as the boys -- as one of our friends mentioned, due to their own safety as well as their family's demands that they be present at home at a certain time and were unable to stay in such places for long -- they ought to be given more credit for earning such good grades in the exams.

I could never forget the way I had prepared myself for the entrance exam of the religious seminary. In my circumstances, anyone else would have given in, but I sustained my hard work and was able to achieve the 78th place in the country.

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.


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