Photo Credit: New York Post
Iran supreme leader Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei made headlines when he posted a short video on his Twitter account earlier this week discussing the #MeToo movement against sexual assault and Islam’s proposal to resolve it.
The video starts out with a girl, two-time Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, delivering a statement. In it, she states the following.
“Realizing that you are a survivor of sexual abuse if really hard to put into words.”
Raisman, who won six medals, including three gold medals, two silver medals and one bronze medal in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is one of the more than 330 people who have accused 55-year-old disgraced former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State physician Larry Nassar of sexual assault.
Nassar has been accused of sexually assaulting these more than 330 individuals, many of whom female gymnasts, under the guise of medical treatment for more than two decades. In addition to Raisman, among those who have accused Nassar of sexual assault are Olympic champion gymnasts Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Madison Kocian, McKayla Maroney, Kyla Ross and Jordyn Wieber.
Nassar is set to spend the rest of his life in prison as one of the worst child sexual predators if not the worst sexual predator in history. He was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison back in December on three child pornography charges by U.S. District Judge Janet Neff.
In January, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina sentenced Nassar to between 40 and 175 years in state prison on seven sexual assault charges following a seven-day sentencing hearing in Ingham County, Michigan during which 169 victim impact statements were delivered in front of Nassar in court.
Of those 169 victim impact statements, 156 were delivered by people who have accused Nassar of sexual assault and the other 13 were delivered on the behalves of those who have accused him of sexual assault.
Raisman is one of Nassar’s accusers who delivered her victim impact statement during this sentencing hearing, and her statement was a scathing statement that got worldwide attention almost immediately. It was from this statement that Khamenei took his clip of Raisman for his video.
In February, Judge Janice Cunningham sentenced Nassar between an additional 40 and 125 more years in state prison on three more sexual assault charges following a three-day sentencing hearing in Eaton County, Michigan during which 65 victim impact statements were delivered in front of Nassar in court.
In June, Nassar was charged with six counts of second-degree sexual assault of a child in stemming from the Károlyi Ranch investigation in Texas, but he was not issued any additional prison time as a result of these charges.
Khamenei’s video, however, made headlines for the wrong reasons when it comes to the #MeToo movement, particularly because of the fact that Raisman was used in it.
The purpose of Khamenei’s video was to promote the use of the hijab a head covering worn in public by some Muslim women in the presence of any male outside of their immediate family that usually covers the head and chest.
Here is the video, which includes other small clips from Nassar’s January sentencing hearing.
Why is this controversial?
In the wake of the Nassar scandal, Raisman has been very vocal that just because a woman is wearing a certain outfit does not mean that she is asking to be sexually assaulted. She has taken a strong stance against victim shaming that suggests otherwise in any way.
In fact, Raisman took part in photo shoots for the 2018 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and the In Her Own Words photo shoots that went along with it, in which she posed nude with several words written on her body to express this sentiment.
Let’s be 100% clear: whether or not you agree with her taking part in these photo shoots themselves is a whole other topic that has absolutely no effect on the fact that attempting to justify actions of sexual assault is utterly loathsome.
By suggesting that the use of the hijab is the solution to solving sexual assault and using a line from Raisman’s statement from Nassar’s January sentencing hearing to further this cause, Khamenei is essentially using the 24-year-old Needham, Massachusetts native as propaganda for his own cause — and it is a cause that she is against in every way, shape or form.
Whether or not Khamenei knows who, exactly, he used to promote the hijab in this video by selecting Raisman is immaterial when it comes to the pure idiocy he demonstrated by doing so.
Either he is uneducated has no idea about who she is or what she stands for, in which case he shouldn’t be using her to promote his own agenda anyway, or he knows exactly who she is and what she stands for and saw the idea of using her in his video as an opportunity to subliminally diss the sentiments that she has been advocating for by showing that she was sexually assaulted just so that he can promote the use of the hijab.
Again, either way, it’s pure idiocy.