Activists, cultural figures, and other prominent Iranians have mourned the death of Azam Taleghani, a women’s rights activist who fought repeatedly, and unsuccessfully, to become Iran’s female presidential candidate.
Dozens of prominent Iranians attended funeral ceremonies on November 1 for Taleghani, who was buried at Tehran’s Behesht-e Zahra cemetery, alongside her relatives.
Taleghani, 76, died on October 30 at Pars Hospital in the Iranian capital. Her brother Mohammadreza Taleghani said in a statement that she had been admitted with an unspecified brain condition.
Taleghani was among Iran’s most active campaigners of women’s rights, challenging hard-line interpretations of Islamic laws.
She gained renown for repeated attempts to run as a candidate for the presidency -- efforts that were aimed at highlighting state discrimination in the Islamic republic, where no woman has ever been allowed to stand for the presidency.
Her efforts to run -- five, in all -- were a direct challenge to hard-liners in control of the Guardians Council, the unelected body that is in charge of vetting candidates for presidential and parliamentary votes.The council has rejected all female candidates, based on a strict interpretation of the country’s constitution.
Following the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Taleghani became a deputy in the Iranian parliament -- one of the first women to enter the legislature.
For years, she edited the magazine Payam Hajar, which questioned issues such as polygamy and published articles in favor of more rights for women, including equal rights to inheritance. The magazine was shut down by the authorities in 2000 as part of a crackdown on the liberal and reformist press.
In 2003, Taleghani launched a solo protest outside Evin prison in Tehran to protest the treatment of political prisoners following the death in custody of Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi.
She was also critical of the brutal state crackdown that followed the 2009 disputed reelection of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad.
And she publicly condemned the house arrest of opposition figures Mir Hossein Musavi, his wife, university professor Zahra Rahnavard, and reformist cleric Mehdi Karrubi. The trio were arrested in 2011 for repeatedly challenging authorities over Ahmadinejad’s reelection and for highlighting human rights abuses. They remain in state custody.
In a 2013 interview, Taleghani said she believed that Iran’s revolution had strayed from its original path to bring Iranians freedom and justice.
According to the Tehran Times, President Hassan Rouhani sent a message of condolences to Taleghani’s relatives following her death.
News reports said Taleghani’s husband died in 2017. She is survived by four children, her nine siblings, two half sisters, and two half brothers.