Iranian dissident Masih Alinejad said that despite apparent attempts by Iran to kill or kidnap her, she will not be intimidated into silencing her campaign for human rights and freedom in her homeland.
Alinejad spoke to the Kan public broadcaster in an English-language interview broadcast Wednesday, days after a man was arrested outside her New York City home.
Last week, Khalid Mehdiyev parked outside her home and was said to peek through the windows and try to open the front door, according to a criminal complaint filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan. He was pulled over and arrested by New York City police for running a stop sign and driving without a valid license. Law enforcement then found him in possession of a suitcase containing the loaded rifle and $1,100 in $100 bills, the complaint said.
“I do not fear for my life — they can come and kill me because I know they cannot kill the idea of the campaign for freedom and dignity,” Alinejad said. “So my message to the Iranian regime is it can go to hell.”
Since 2014, Alinejad has maintained a Facebook campaign, “My Stealthy Freedom,” to support Iranian women who don’t want to wear the hijab covering required for women in the country.
Alinejad said she uses social media to give women in a Iran “a voice,” encouraging them to protest against headscarf rules by posting pictures of themselves in public without the mandatory religious garment.
“All the laws in Iran are anti-women,” she told Kan. “Our fight is not just about a piece of cloth — it is about dignity, about having a life.”
She said the Iranian regime fears her because she speaks on behalf of Iranian women.
“I feel responsible to echo their voice,” she said of women living in Iran. “And that scares the government.”
But Alinejad vowed not to be deterred, even by the latest incident of the armed intruder and a separate kidnap plot last year.
“Now I feel more powerful and determined to fight back against the killers the oppressors, and the oppressive regime,” she said.
Regarding negotiations with world powers, including the US, over Iran’s nuclear program, she said the talks should be expanded to cover human rights issues as well.
“You want to hold negotiations with murderers without talking about human rights?” she said. “You are burying human rights under the nuclear agreement and you think that will save the world? It won’t save the world. There will be more threats coming towards Americans.”
These are the scary scenes capturing a man who tried to enter my house in New York with a loaded gun to kill me.
Last year the FBI stopped the Islamic Republic from kidnapping me.
My crime is giving voice to voiceless people. The US administration must be tough on terror. pic.twitter.com/XsxlFLSlOk
— Masih Alinejad ????️ (@AlinejadMasih) July 31, 2022
Mehdiyev, reportedly a citizen of Azerbaijan, has been charged with possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number, and is being held without bail. Mehdiyev’s attorney Stephanie Marie Carvlin did not comment to US media on the matter.
Alinejad and her family moved to a secure location, the dissident said.
Last year, four operatives were charged in absentia for attempting to kidnap Alinejad and a number of other targets who were critical of the Iranian regime. Tehran denied the allegations.
Alinejad said she was moved to a series of safehouses while the FBI investigated the plot, which also involved a California-based Iranian who helped hire private investigators to follow her, according to the indictment.
The 45-year-old journalist left Iran in 2009, studied in Britain and worked for the US government-backed Voice of America’s Persian-language service.