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Simin Behbahani, Iranian poet and activist, dies at 87

By Kyle Johnson,

Simin Behbahani, the Iranian poet and women's activist who was nicknamed "Lioness of Iran," passed away on Tuesday at the age of 87.

Iran news agency IRNA said she had been in the Tehran Pars hospital over the past two weeks in poor health and she eventually died of heart and respiratory complications, NBC News reports. She was also nearly blind for a time ahead of her passing.

"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," Behbahani told BBC's Persian service two years ago, talking about her feelings against stoning in her country.

She stood up for against censorship, which earned her the 'Lioness' title. Behbahani was also nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature, according to Reuters.

The government wasn't always a fan of her and made attempts in the 1990s to disrupt her public poetry sessions. One time security forces turned out the lights after taking her microphone. Then, when she continued on anyway, they tried to make loud noises over her speaking.

"That didn't deter her, she just stood there reading her poetry out loud without a microphone while her supporters protected her," Dr. Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak, her friend, said.

Behbahani's writing career began when she was 14 and her mother discovered a poem she had written, BBC News notes. She knew it was her daughter's and submitted it to the newspaper who published it.

She remained an outspoken activist throughout her life, never letting the state silence her, even as state allied newspapers defamed and harassed her.

 
 

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