Azar Nafisi to Speak on “Women, Culture, Human Rights: the case of Iran” at Second Lecture of New York Democracy Forum, April 20

Azar Nafisi, best-selling author of Reading Lolita in Teheran, will address the topic, “Women, Culture, Human Rights: The Case of Iran,” at the second lecture of the New York Democracy Forum (NYDF) to be held at the Kaye Playhouse of Hunter College on Wednesday, April 20, 2005 at 6:00 p.m.

The New York Democracy Forum is a joint venture of the Foreign Policy Association (FPA) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which aims to bring to New York audiences key figures in the global democracy movement who are leading the way in the advance of democratic values and institutions around the world. These individuals, whether they are activists, scholars, or decision makers, are influential democratic figures because of the impact of their work and the power of their ideas.

“Azar Nafisi is uniquely qualified to speak to American audiences about advancing human rights and democracy,” said NED president Carl Gershman. “She understands the universal desire for freedom not only because she is a keen student of great literature, but also because she has taken great personal risks in pursuit of basic human rights.” Dr. Nafisi’s critically-acclaimed book is based upon her experience in Iran leading a discussion group of young women on forbidden works of Western literature prior to fleeing that country for the U.S. in 1997. As a professor of aesthetics, culture and literature at the Free Islamic University, Allameh Tabatabaii, and the University of Tehran-where she was eventually expelled for refusing to wear the mandatory Islamic veil–she earned national respect and international recognition for advocating on behalf of Iran’s intellectuals, youth, and especially young women.

NYDF lectures will be held on a monthly basis at Hunter College, except for the summer. The first lecture was given by former Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt on the topic “Spreading Freedom: A Mission for the American People,” and can be viewed on the NED website ( Public intellectual Francis Fukuyama will address the topic, “Do we really know how to promote democracy?” on May 24.

There are no two organizations better placed to link New York and Washington in this important undertaking. Since its founding in 1918, the New York-based Foreign Policy Association ( has been at the forefront of efforts to educate the public about the critical issues that shape America’s involvement in world affairs. Through its World Affairs Councils, Great Decisions series, and publications, it serves as the leading public foreign policy forum for national and international leaders.

NED is a private, nonprofit, grant-making organization created in 1983 to strengthen democratic institutions around the world. It is active in more than 90 countries, supporting grassroots, democratic initiatives. More information about NED can be found at

Date: Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Speaker: Azar Nafisi, best selling author of Reading Lolita in Teheran
Time: Registration begins 5:30 pm, lecture from 6:00pm – 7:00pm
Location: Kaye Play House, 695 Park Avenue (68th Street between Park and Lexington),, New York, NY
Admission: Free, advance registration required
Register at