Kayhan Life’s Nazenin Ansari Speaks to the BBC about Olympic Medalist Kimia Alizadeh and her Decision to Defect

By Natasha Phillips

Kayhan Life’s Nazenin Ansari Tells the BBC’s World Service that the defection of Iran’s only Female Olympic medalist from the Islamic Republic is a significant development in the movement calling out the current Iranian government over its oppressive policies.

The defection signaled a growing momentum in the women’s rights movement in Iran, Ansari said in a BBC radio interview on Jan. 13.

Taekwondo player Kimia Alizadeh, announced the move on Instagram and told her followers that her decision to defect had been difficult, but one she felt was necessary as “one of millions of oppressed women in Iran.”

“The young women in Iran who have taken to the streets have done so because they do not want to be forced to wear hijab” said Ansari, who was speaking on the BBC News channel. “That was one of her messages, that she did not want to be forced to wear the hijab as well.”

Anti government protests in Iran have intensified over the last 12 months, marred by government sanctioned internet blackouts and violent crackdowns which have left several hundred people dead.

Iranians both inside and outside the country have been deeply critical of the regime’s economic mismanagement and failure to clamp down on widespread corruption.

You can listen to the interview below.

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