The Importance and Controversy of Spreading a Message

On February 21, 2011 Fadwa Laroui set herself on fire in front of a government building in a sign of protest. Fadwa’s protest was aimed towards speaking for single mothers whose rights are ignored by the state. Her story is important because she is now remembered as a symbol of national protest and a courageous mother who died for political change. We do not see more stories about other women protesting because males are the ones who get the most attention and are heard the most. In the stories we do see, Western media often portrays them as feminist rescue missions which feeds into the Western ideas of the “need to save women from Islamic culture” (Segall 202). This idea feeds into the lack of press coverage of women protesting as we do not want to view Middle Eastern women as strong—we think we have to be the ones who save them and that they are incapable of saving themselves.

Persepolis is a very controversial book and has seen its share of censorship. I believe that many of the reasons for its censorship stem from many of the elements within the book that go against Islam. One of these elements are the images of God which are not permitted within Islam. In Islam, images are seen as idols and are absolutely prohibited and forbidden. Throughout Satrapi’s graphic memoir, we see images of God conversing with Marji and holding Marji in his arms. This is highly looked down upon within the Muslim community. Another element that goes against Islam is sexual relations before marriage, which Satrapi does discuss in her memoir about the experiences she went through. This kind of writing is also a case for censorship within Islam as they do not want stories of premarital relations spread or seen as okay.

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            The first time I read Persepolis was exactly one year ago in my first UCOR class. I truly enjoyed the book at the time but it was not until this year that this book truly impacted me and changed my perspective of Iran. From what I had seen on Western media, Iran was both helpless and evil and after reading Satrapi’s graphic memoir, I realized that it was the government and dictatorship they were under and not the people who were hostile and dangerous. After reading it this time around, I have broken from the single story of “the horror of Iran” seen in Western media (Segall 195). The scene that sticks out the most to me which breaks the single story I’ve heard is on pages eighteen and nineteen, which are pictured above. Marji knows her parents protest everyday but in school she was taught that the king was chosen by God. Her parents decide to tell her that that is not the case. In this scene, I clearly see how the people of Iran are indoctrinated by the government at a very young age but that there are people who highly disagree with them and protest against the king and government. The fact that this book has changed my perspective on Iran and the Middle East is what really matters to me about Persepolis. I believe that the most important thing a book can do is introduce you to new ideas and change your preconceptions that are misconceptions about people, places, and ideas. Persepolis truly does this for me.

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