IRAN SPECIAL. Negzzia had to leave her country after taking photos considered indecent by the morality police. The 32-year-old model told her story in a book “Say Goodbye to Your Body” published a year ago. On the occasion of this day dedicated to Iran, Paris Match met this young woman who dreams of only one thing: the freedom of her people.
Today, the Iranian people have been in the streets for a month. What do you think of these protesters?
Negzzia. When I was 20 years old, we protested a little bit, but it only lasted a few days because we were scared. But this generation fears nothing. Young people are tired of hiding to drink alcohol and love each other. With the Internet, you can’t hide the truth from them. This is also the reason why the network is heavily restricted. The anger was born from the murder of Mahsa Amini, a highly respected and respectable young woman. A padlock was sticking out of her hijab. [voile qui couvre les cheveux, les oreilles et le cou, ndlr]. The movement comes from his mother, from his generation. Then the young people got in, the men too. The government slaughters them. A 17-year-old girl was raped for eight days by the police, a 12-year-old boy was tortured to death. Despite this, nothing stops them. If the revolution endures it is thanks to them.
What do you think of the global mobilization?
As soon as I talk about it, everyone censors me. People need help beyond those who cut two hairs. It is not about feminism but about freedom. We no longer want to mix religion and government. Like you, in the Middle Ages, when religion ruled. You made the Revolution to change that. Today is the same. Canada has banned the entry of people linked to the Iranian government. Why doesn’t France do the same? If everyone united, the government would fall. Where is the UN? Makes you wonder if she’s not friends with Iran.
“In jail there are thieves, criminals… Here there are only artists”
Do you have news of your loved ones?
Almost all my friends are gone. Those who were not artists are still in Iran, in the same situation. That makes me sad. A girlfriend was sentenced to 6 months in prison for singing at the same time as a man. “It makes me laugh, normally in prison there are only thieves, criminals… But here there are only artists,” she told me. Going to prison changes your life, to find work for example. All because we want to be free.
You welcomed your first child a few weeks ago. Is it lucky to have a girl in France?
I never thought I would have a child, but I met the best man in the world, a Frenchman. The most important thing today is that she is safe. And she shouldn’t make her do anything about it.
What memory do you keep of the Iranian school?
Every morning, you had to put on the hijab. She hated him. When we learned geography, countries did not exist in our books. I still don’t know where Israel stands when they talk about it every day on TV, wishing for the destruction of the country. In history, they removed all events that occurred before the birth of Islam and suppressed all information considered “bad” for the population.
What kind of authority suffered in Iran?
The morality police were everywhere. The government was injecting a lot of poison into people’s heads so that girls would keep their virginity until marriage. Thanks to my father who was an engineer, I had access to the latest technologies at home. I had the opportunity to see the world outside of Iran. The movies there are full of censorship. One day I was watching a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio and he told me: “I hate America. The government of Iran is perfect.” When the crisis of the yellow vests in Paris took place, an Iranian journalist present at one of the demonstrations said on television that the whole world was in the streets for Palestine. Before, this propaganda worked because nobody had the Internet to consult the information without censorship. But we can no longer lie to this generation.
“I was sentenced to 148 lashes”
Your first sexual relationship with a man, outside of marriage, unleashed the fury of your family…
For a long time I was afraid of sex. Everyone said it was wrong, that they wouldn’t find me a husband if I wasn’t a virgin, I panicked. I’ve only known what an orgasm is for three years, you know?
How did you discover the “underground” universe?
I started as a wedding photographer. I learned everything with an old camera. But my dream was to be an artist. So, everything I knew, I put at the service of this hidden world. I met a singer who allowed me to take pictures for jackets. I was finally myself, in my country. When this world opened up to me, I thought, “Wow, I’m not really a bad person. There are plenty of other “bad girls” and “bad boys.”
This is where everything changes. You were almost raped by a photographer, who was actually a government agent.
I had just had my back tattooed and a photographer suggested we shoot it. I said yes. In the middle of the session, he took off his clothes and tried to rape me. It was the worst moment of my life. Before I ran away, I had to put my hijab back on. I couldn’t go to the police as I would have been responsible. This man was a well-known figure in the “underground” world and worked for the government.
What happened after?
A friend told me that he was going to have problems since the photographer in question had sent the photos to the vice squad. I took my things, I went to Istanbul with only two or three clothes, thinking that I would only stay there for a week. Days passed, no news. Then my friend told me that I was sentenced to 148 lashes and jail time. I didn’t even give my dad a hug goodbye. I had to say goodbye to all my past, to all my family. You are welcome. It was for nothing.