First Khanom

Meet Mrs Ahmadinejad and Co


First Khanom
by Meir Javedanfar

Since becoming president in 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has become one of the most widely known Iranian politicians. In direct contrast, his wife has been one of the most discreet spouses in Iranian political history. The world got its first glimpse of her in 2005, after she accompanied her husband on a trip to Malaysia. However, she did not speak any words and has hardly ever appeared in front of cameras since then. What was even more mysterious was her identity. She was only referred to as Mrs. Ahmadinejad in the very few reports which mentioned her. Her real identity was strongly protected.

But on January 18, 2009, the world suddenly met Azam Al Sadat Farahi, who until that day was known as Mrs. Ahmadinejad. The encounter was brought about by a letter she wrote on behalf of Gazans to Suzanne Mubarak, the wife of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. In it she wrote:

"The people of Gaza have been subjected to aerial, ground and sea attacks and have been living under siege for a long time. Witnessing the bombardment of mosques, hospitals and houses and the mutilation of women and children brings pain to the heart of any human being. …I ask you to do whatever is in your capacity to help the people of Gaza and to help them from the oppression that they are suffering from, so that your name is placed alongside the name of worthy and peace seeking women."

One could doubt whether Mrs. Ahmadinejad’s letter would have any impact, because these days Egypt is trying its best to isolate Iran. This was seen by the fact that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei on several occasions asked for Mubarak’s help. Nothing ever came of it.

Nevertheless, the symbolic value of the letter should not be ignored. Many people around the world believe that Iranian women, especially conservative ones, are confined to the boundaries of the kitchen. This may be true about wives of conservative clergy. However when it comes to non-clergy conservatives, the opposite is true. Quite a few are very vociferous in their political thinking and beliefs.

One of the most notable is Fatemeh Rajabi, the journalist wife of Gholam Hossein Elham, a government spokesman and one of Ahmadinejad’s most trusted confidants. Rajabi sometimes appears in the press more often than her husband. Furthermore, she has openly attacked Rafsanjani’s allies for being corrupt and Ayatollah Khatami for being too liberal and friendly toward the West. She even called for the defrocking of Khatami. Although many male members of Iran’s political elite have done the same, Rajabi is the first female critic in Iran’s post-revolution history to go so far in her criticism of senior politicians. This has earned her several nicknames. One is “Fatti Arreh,” meaning “Fatemeh the hacksaw.” The other is “Shamsi Pahlevoon,” a nickname given to physically rough women in Iran.

Despite the fact that Ahmadinejad’s wife has been camera shy until recently, she too has had a strong influence on her husband. Although the president of Iran is no feminist, compared to other conservatives in Iran he has championed more rights for women. One of them was his public call to allow women to attend soccer matches as spectators. Soon after, he was subjected to fierce criticism from senior clergy from the city of Qom because they saw it as un-Islamic. Ahmadinejad did not back down until he was forced to by Iran’s supreme leader. Furthermore, during his tenure as mayor of Tehran, Ahmadinejad opened many leisure areas for women, including parks and libraries. Although segregation of men and women is frowned upon in the West and by many Iranians, it must be noted that some women in Iran welcome segregation in buses and parks due to problems such as unwanted physical contact and approach by strangers. Right-wing movements have also increased their recruitment of women for their campaigning and demonstrations. A great number of Baseej (people’s militia) who demonstrated against Israel and Egypt were women.

As the Iranian presidential elections near, we are going to hear more from the female members of Iran’s political arena. Their appearance is not solely for the betterment of human kind. Jealousy and self-interest are also at play. It is believed that one of the reasons why Ahmadinejad’s wife wrote to Suzanne Mubarak is because she did not want to be outdone by Zohre Sadeghi, the wife of Ayatollah Khatami (Ahmadinejad’s chief rival), who two days earlier had written a similar letter to the wife of the emir of Qatar.

Conservative clergy may wish to keep Iran’s women quiet and at home. However, it looks like the conservative non-clergy politicians who should back them are actually turning against them.

Sixty percent of Iran’s university graduates are women. It’s only a matter of time before they can slowly claim their deserved place in the government and society of their country.

Meir Javedanfar is an Iranian – Israeli Middle East Analyst. He runs the Middle East Economic and Political Analysis Company (meepas). He recently started the Middle East Analyst blog ( This article originally appeared in PJM Media


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Ganselmi - RE: "Jaleho"

by Anonymous111 (not verified) on

I think that Jaleho has not just drank IRI's coolaid. The way her comments ramble on incoherently it looks like she is drunk, period. Honestly, all I get out of her comments are profanities, such as POS, etc. I don't know why her comments are allowed to be published with all these words in them.


who gives....

by delldaar on

 crap about this piece of filth, aka Mrs. ahmadi.. while best of this nations doughters and sons are being sloughtered by this regime.get a life and talk about something that matters.


On the topic of Arab

by raining (not verified) on

On the topic of Arab leaders’ “solidarity” with the Palestinians, the Syrian government prevents press access to these camps It is also rounding up any Palestinians who do sneak through to safety in Damascus and returning them to the camps.


Systematic discrimination faces Palestinian refugees in Lebanon


The treatment of Palestinians in Arab and Muslim lands, are often denied the most basic of civic and social rights let alone the legal and political rights of citizenship or permanent residence is an enduring crime against an ethnic group which constitutes a crime against humanity as it does in GAZA.

Will IRI's **First Lady** write a letter to Syria, and Hizballh in Lebanon?


Now, IRI's first lady can

by tsunami (not verified) on

Now, IRI's first lady can write a letter to Shi'ite gov't of Iraq and ask them to stop killing Palestinians in Iraq

Shia gov't in Iraq killing Palestinians in Iraq is "Kosher" in the eyes of bigotted and deeply hypocritical IRI cronies on this site,

Urgent appeal for resettlement of ex-Iraq Palestinians




by tsion on

Ahhh...Those bare foots! Those are other types of WMD all by themselves! And to think the Islamic ummah has had them for a long time now... Sometimes makes you wonder why they need the other one at all? ;-)

Oh and I think Jaleho is upset because an infidel Jew has dared touch upon the nómos of the Islamic ummah. It's a question of honor now! LOL.



Javedanfar's article is professional, unbiased and informative.

by Ostaad on

I am glad that Iranian Jews who have left Iran still keep abreast of the events in their former homeland. I find this particular article by Javedanfar very objective and informative. The photo is certainly an "authorized" one and the objective is to show an "ordinary" Iranian family in the kind of settings that many Iraninans of various walks of life identify with. But the main point of the article, in my opinion, is to show the Iranian women/wives are have power and authority in the society. The fact that Mrs. Farahi, Ahmadinejad's wife, wrote a letter to Suzzane Mobarrak, who is uncivilized enough to ignore it, pointing out the humanitarian catastrophe inflicted on the civilian population of Gaza by the IDF war criminals, as well as mentioning Mrs. Rajavi, whose diatribes were accurately described, are proof that Mr. Javedanfar is a capable journalist. I don't agree with all he has written before, but in this case he is doing a great job show casing the role of the Iranian women today. I don't remember any other reporter who pointed out what Mrs. Frahi who, as Javedanfar has accurately reported has a university degree, had done. 

I would like to express my appreciation for Mr. Javedanfar's professional article. I am looking forward to seeing more informative articles like this from him. 

Artificial Intelligence

Ganselmi, One more point about this dirty photo

by Artificial Intelligence on

This stinking photo is a political statement by Ahmadinejad. Furniture is farangy and a western invention like wearing a tie is farangy and western. The woman could not cover themselves adequately sitting on westernized furniture. You may be able to see their feet or something.



Ostaad Jan,

by ganselmi on

If you actually read what I said you'd understand that I have no problem with having people in general taking their shoes off -- for comfort or for sanitary/cultural reasons.

I was making a specific comment about the specific folks depicted in that specific photograph, and making a bet that the rancid stink of feet and sweat was all over that room -- a stink that you clearly relish given your servile, slobbering attitude towards said people.


ganselmi, when you demand "sociological data" about how...

by Ostaad on

the majority of the Iranian families behave in their homes, you only reveal your utter ignorance and cultural illiteracy about everyday life in Iran. It may be news to you but it is customary for many Iranians, including the families who have chairs and tables to take off their shoes inside their homes for sanitary and cultural reasons (in fact many peoples of Asia do the same including the Japanese, Chinese, etc.). Your "pew" comment was very pedestrian to say the least. Based on the garbage you posted, I bet your living room smells like a dumpster that even a ton of golab and atr can't hide.


No problem friend!

by ganselmi on

We need to stick together cause the other side is damn good at ganging up!

-- This comment will mysteriously self-destruct in T-minus... -- 

Artificial Intelligence

Thank you Ganselmi!

by Artificial Intelligence on

You were right on the money. Someone is playing silly childish games here. I know why she is doing it. Its OK. No Hard feelings. She is getting her revenge:)))))


Racism In Plain View

by ganselmi on

"kosher news media"

Wow - just wow! JALEHO: this is probably the oldest anti-semetic myth out there. Don't you realize this kind of speech led to the murder of millions of innocents? Do you even know one Jew in the real world? If you did you would not wield hatred so wantonly!


That's right Irandokht,

by Jaleho on

Javedanfar is now posing as "iran expert" of his Tel Aviv organization, and writes not just here (his last article's ink is not dry yet!), but all over the "kosher news media" which gives his assinine opinion PLENTY of space. Anyone who can speak Farsi and has gone to Israel tries to abuse the Israeli hostility towards Iran and make a name for himself by BSing about Iran's nuclear stuff. And, when he can't find a better subject, he tries to demonize Ahmadinejad's wife of all the things for the fantastic letter she has written to Mubarak's wife! Up to now, they would have prefered if people didn't know that Iranian women like her not only can write, but she has gone to university with her husband, and can give a good lesson in humanity to worthless women like Mubarak's wife! What to do? make fun of "first lady wearing chador," I might add even that's old(at least three years) cheap Israeli humor.

You see his type and Zion's all over the net advocating attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, cheer leading Israeli massacre of Gaza and Lebanon, and trying to extend Israel's pathetic attempt of dragging Iran into what Bush-Israel hoped could force Obama as a fait accompli policy regarding Iran and Israel. They feel like they don't have much time!!

I guess Javedanfar at least is a touch better than Zion in that he KNOWS Iran's power better, and that Netanyahu has to come in line with Obama, not vice versa! 

Check his disgusting article  which was in yahoo last week. I don't have it handy now, I'll try to find it later if you couldn't.



Fair Point

by ganselmi on

I always prefer dealing with policy and ideas than personal judgement. But in this case, destestable character that Ahmadinejad is: I can't help but feel disgust for his private existence. And there is no shame in that.

Plus, what's wrong with demanding that the country's leadership should embody and celebrate the ASPIRATIONS of Iranians every once in a while? 



by ganselmi on

Irandokhte aziz,

dorost gofti: man tamaam in modat negaraani mikardam ke kasi mesl-e to peyda beshe ke rol-e nahaaniye mano be onvan yek ma'mur estekbar-e jahani peyda kon-e!

cheghadr bahushi - kare asuni nabud!




by Mehrban (not verified) on

Maybe I should have said many in stead of "any middle class Iranian families". Never the less my point remains. First, they are not bare foot, they have taken their shoes off in their home which is customary (not in all families but certainly not an unknown habit) in Iran. Second this photo was clearly taken for public release so she is not wearing a chador to cover up from her husband but she is covering from possibly a male photographer and potential future viewers.

The point is that this image in itself should not be so foreign to people who everyday work and write to librate the people of Iran as to instigate disgust in them. This is what a big part of Iran looks like and it is not terrible.

Dislike for Ahmadinejad because of his policies and results is another matter.


جریان چیه


یک عالمه اسم جدید درست شده که چپ و راست خودشونو ایرانی معرفی میکنند و کوچکترین اطلاعی نه در مورد فرهنگ نه زبان ما دارند... یا یکی دو نفر خیلی بیکار اینجا رو پیدا کردند یا تعداد چریکای اینترنتی را از مرکز زیاد کردند. هر مقاله ای را که نگاه میکنی یکی دوتاشون دارن میلولن. 



by ganselmi on

Do you have sociological data qualifying your claim? Have you visited every Iranian home and taken count of whether they sit barefoot on the floor, with the women covered up from their own menfolk?

I can only speak from my own experience and my own childhood milieu. My family and their friends did not live in northern Tehran, they were not old money or nouveaux riches, they sent their kids to the regular public schools, etc. etc. And yet, when they gathered together, they sat on good, old-fashioned chairs and couches and the women may have sat in a separate half of the living room from the men, but they did not cover themselves up from their own husbands!  

So really, what's more condescending -- my attitude of disdain for this photo or yours, which makes sweeping generalizations about all Iranians and imposes a certain cultural standard on all of them?


Pew Pew or not

by Mehrban (not verified) on

This picture could be of any middle class Iranian family outside of northern Tehran, in the lower economic strata the beautiful nain carpet under them would be a kilim.

To me the shock and distaste expressed towards this picture shows a large disconnect between the readership and the majority of Iranians in Iran at the present.



by ganselmi on

Jahelo has drank so much of the regime's anti-semetic coolaid that he can't think for himself anymore. His whole thought process is clouded by hatred.

Which will be all the more sad for him when the IRI is removed, and the Persian and Jewish people renew their 2,500-year old bond of friendship.



by cyclicforward on

I have never heard of so much nonsense in one paragraph. Okay, Netanyaho has his whores, what do you care? At least he doesn't go around killing the citizens of his country. I take that to Ahmadinejad any time.


First Khanom:

by LalehGillani on

How about a letter to the wife of the Supreme Leader to highlight the plight of Iranian families whose loved ones have been massacred and buried in mass graves in Khavaran and other unnamed cemeteries throughout Iran? It could start like this:

"The people of Iran have been subjected to imprisonment, torture and executions and have been living under siege for a long time. Witnessing the hangings of innocent individuals without due process and the burial of women and children in mass graves brings pain to the heart of any human being. …I ask you to do whatever is in your capacity to help the people of Iran and to help them from the oppression that they are suffering from, so that your name is placed alongside the name of worthy and peace seeking women."

Does the First Khanom have the moral fiber to go this far? Or perhaps she firmly believes that the infidels buried in Khavaran received what they deserved?

Selective outrage over the deeds of others isn’t a sign of courage. It is the mark of a coward accomplice…


She is a looker

by Cyrus_ (not verified) on


How could you see through her chador that she is a looker ??


Persian Women

by iDarius (not verified) on

First khanum, here are some things you might not have know about Persian Women:




by ganselmi on

Looking at the family photo -- you can almost smell the stink of feet covered up by golab. But BK is right: at least you can tell "anbanou" is a real looker! :)


Well, if nothings else

by BK (not verified) on

She is a looker.


Good one Azadeh

by cyclicforward on

The country has spiraled so low that people have to be  contempt with small and mediocre character of Ahmadinejad and his wife and be happy with the segregated culture that they created.

Azadeh Azad

Surrealistic Iranian politics!

by Azadeh Azad on

This is such an enlightening read on Iranian politics! Now that I’ve learnt Ms. Engineer Azam Farahi is an "Islamic feminist" who has influenced her husband Dr. Ahmadinejad to "champion more rights for women" by creating women only sports centres, women only parks and women only libraries, I’m wondering if the First Khanoum would ever influence her liberal husband to create a women only country?!!! I'd prefer Shomal as our separate republic, in case she does! :-)