The importance of Fadwa’s story is not because it was a protest, but because it was a protest that went unnoticed by the mainstream media. Due to gender, to a collective memory that was not deemed as important enough to the West, there is a life that was taken and it went unnoticed. Fadwah Lourai, denied the ability to own a home for herself and her children because of her marriage status (single) as well as due to rich buyers taking a whole complex – the injustice was much too great for a woman who has no one else to turn to when the government itself wouldn’t bat an eye at the denial of a basic right –shelter. Lightening herself on fire “in front of a government building, a place where we expect citizen’s to receive assistance, not neglect” (200). Fadwa became a symbol of political protest, embodying the ability to stand up for what is right but ultimately it leading to her death, was only captured in a short passage in the New York Times and was eventually forgotten – but not by the Moroccan people. It became a collective memory that they never forget. And for us Westerners – it was, in our mindset, a single story (that of an oppressed woman in a poor country that was probably a prostitute) that we didn’t bother to pay attention to and prove that it was wrong.
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is a graphic novel that is censored due to its inability to fit in the “norm” when we think about Iran and Islam. Using a depiction of God, swaying between political and religious reasoning’s as for why things happened and how Marjane grew up – it was not as black and white as the media has tried to force us to believe. Specifically with the use of the divine image of God and having conversations with Marji as a child in order to understand what was happening around her, brought outrage but Satrapi claims that “she wrote these texts to defy stereotypes of an Islamic Iran” (104). Religion has played an important role in the relationship Iran has with its people as well as the relationship Iran has with the West. The use of God in Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel was blasphemous and incredibly risky.
Persepolis has personally became a favorite of mine out of all of the books we have read in class so far. From the very beginning I was enamored by Marji and her innocence to a harsh reality. As a reader, I went on a journey with Marji from when she was very young, to becoming a woman and watching her try to piece herself together after all that she lost, after losing herself one too many times. Persepolis challenged my belief and judgements of Iran that I had, and became a graphic novel that begged me to take a risk and believe in an Iran that was different than what I was taught to believe by the mainstream media. It challenged the single story of the West that I myself have been a victim of. Dr. Segall writes in Performing Democracy in Iraq and South Africa that “the Western myth that the oppressed Muslim woman must be rescued and relocated in white civilization” (115). Such a single story has become so incredibly damaging to so many families from other countries. I found myself relating to Marji and her feeling of liminality, especially when she went back to Iran after what Austria had done to her. Marjane Satrapi uses a style of writing that I had never read before, with the use of images and brutal honesty – it made it ll the more compelling as well as important.