Poet Simin Behbahani, 'Lioness of Iran,' Dies at 87

Iranian poet Simin Behbahani
Iranian poet Simin Behbahani speaks at a conference in Tehran in 2007.REUTERS

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DUBAI — Poet Simin Behbahani, a champion of women's rights and free speech whose lyrical verse captured the hopes and disappointments of Iranians since the 1979 revolution, died Tuesday at the age of 87, official media reported. Nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature, she earned the unofficial title of the "Lioness of Iran" for what admirers saw as her courage in the face of official censorship. After nearly two weeks in the Tehran Pars hospital, she died of heart and respiratory complications, according to state news agency IRNA.

"Until now, I've said what I've had to say, I've always said I'm against death, I'm against killing and I'm against imprisonment," she told the BBC's Persian service in 2012. She voiced strong opposition to the practice of stoning, a rarely used form of capital punishment. Behbahani added her voice to those of the demonstrators who rushed into the streets after a disputed presidential election in June 2009 to protest against alleged ballot rigging, by writing the poem "Stop Throwing My Country To The Wind."


— Reuters