By Javeed Ali
Srinagar, Jan 23: In this materialistic world a person who wants to support and spread the truth is not allowed to do so by those whose foundations are based on falsehood and deceit. Any voice of realism is being muzzled by those who survive on fabrication and falsification. A cry for an oppressed soul is being trampled under the boots of oppressors. An opinion for peace is being eroded by those whose strategies are based on wars and deaths. An appeal for justice to marginalized and disadvantaged people is being caged by those who claim to be the defenders of human rights. A right of religion is being trammelled by those who create and groom terrorists. Discrimination in the name of caste, creed, religion or colour is being perpetuated by those who own and run corporate media.
There are some God-fearing individuals in this world who advocate and uphold the cause of suppressed and subjugated people. One such soul is Marzieh Hashemi. She is a journalist, anchor-woman, documentarian, presenter, voice-over artist and an analyst who is vocal for Muslims, Women Rights, African-Americans and other oppressed people in the world. She is critical about the American foreign policy and regime change plots. Marzieh is against the police brutalities towards black people in the US and she is also against the US–backed wars all across the world.
Marzieh Hashemi was born in an African-American Christian family as Melanie Franklin on December 21, 1959 in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. During her journalism studies in Louisiana State University, the 1979 Islamic Revolution happened in Iran. She took interest in the events occurring in Iran at the time and researched about the Islamic Revolution and the life of Imam Khomeini (R.A.). She was very inspired and finally converted to Islam in 1982 at the age of 22. She changed her name from Melanie Franklin to Marzieh Hashemi and married an Iranian. Marzieh worked with a number of Islamic magazines and newspapers. She was an activist in number of community organisations working for social justice and was confronting Islamophobia menace in the US.
In 2008 Marzieh moved to Iran and began hosting programs on Press TV. She has worked on numerous documentaries depicting the miserable and repressed condition of underprivileged people across the world. A strong proponent of the Palestinian cause, Marzieh also supports other oppressed people of the world. This is the main reason she is being harassed by the US authorities when she visits her relatives there. There is no doubt that it is her activism that has led to her unfair arrest. If Marzieh was like other government-fearing journalists she would be enjoying her freedom right now. If she wasn’t such a strong advocate for Palestine she would be considered harmless. Perhaps if she didn’t work for Press TV none of this would have happened. Her arrest, subsequent harassment by authorities, removal of her hijab. All of this would never have happened if Marzieh remained silent. Only those who speak the truth are targeted. That is a fact.
On 13thJanuary 2019 Marzieh was arrested by FBI agents in America when she was about to board a flight from St. Louis Lambert International Airport for Denver, to visit her ailing brother who is suffering from cancer. She was then transferred to Washington DC where she was handcuffed and shackled in an FBI detention center. Her Hijab (veil) was forcibly removed against her will and she was mistreated. Marzieh was given a short-sleeved T-Shirt in which her mug-shot was taken without her headscarf. After two days of her arrest, she was finally allowed to call her daughter. This was when she revealed the inhuman treatment meted out to her. Marzieh was given pork instead of Halal food which she refused to consume and has only eaten pretzels and bread. She is being held under custody without any crime or charges and is being treated as a criminal. Her family members and friends are very concerned about her health condition and they have demanded her immediate release.
US authorities have violated the religious and human rights of Marzieh Hashemi. They have also violated international laws and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which advocates freedom of opinion and expression. Marzieh Hashemi is being humiliated and tortured as she is the voice of the oppressed. Now it’s the moral obligation of each one of us to raise our voice against the tyrannical and wicked regime of America, that has illegally detained a 59-year-old veteran journalist who is also a mother and a grandmother. She is being intimidated as she has challenged the hegemony of imperialistic powers. It doesn’t matter that Marzieh is an American citizen, what matters is that she is against the system. And that is an unpardonable offense.
Let’s all join our hands and start a massive campaign on social media and press for her release. Already some journalists and human rights activists have started an online hashtag campaign such as #FreeMarziehHashemi and #Pray4MarziehHashemi. Journalists, writers, activists, intellectuals and other professionals should use their energy and platform and urge the International community to pressurize the US authorities, so that they release Marzieh Hashemi from this illegal imprisonment immediately.
May Allah Almighty keep Marzieh Hashemi in good health. Ameen
–The author is a freelance writer and can be reached at [email protected]