Freedom is Not Just an Abstract Concept for the Courageous — Iranian-American Anni Cyrus Cherishes Her Freedom Every Day


by Ted Tripp
Sr. Political Reporter

Thirty-four-year-old Iranian American Anni Cyrus is a victim, a survivor and now a global champion for the rights and dignity of women. She is currently on a U.S. Anti-Sharia Tour where her mission is to bring hope to humanity and fight the true face of Islam by educating people through her life’s experience.

Anni grew up in the Islamic Republic of Iran where her father was a sheikh and her mother taught the Qur’an. At the age of 13, almost 14, her father sold her in marriage to a man that she had never met, for the equivalent of U.S. $50 and a month’s worth of opium use. The man eventually started beating her so she went to her father for help. He pointed out to her in the Qur’an that this was acceptable if the husband even thought she was going to disobey him. The abuse escalated. By the time she was 15 she had experienced an Iranian prison, been lashed and raped. She had had enough and dared to flee across the border to Turkey, eventually making her way to the United States.

Because of her boldness and activism, Anni Cyrus now has at least nine Islamic fatwas directed against her and fears for her life.

The Boston Broadside had the distinct privilege to recently interview her.

TRIPP: Is Cyrus your real name?

CYRUS: Yes. Aynaz “Anni” Cyrus. I became an American citizen in 2010.

TRIPP: Where do you live now?

CYRUS: I live in the United States, but not in one location for very long because of security issues. I feel my life is in danger all the time.

TRIPP: Do you have any family left in Iran?

CYRUS: I have sibling (s) and other relatives, but I have had no contact with them.

TRIPP: When you escaped the country, did any of your family get in trouble with the regime?


TRIPP: How did you get to the United States?

CYRUS: It was my grandmother who helped me get across the border to Turkey. There I eventually found a United Nations refugee agency and asked for help. The official said I could apply for refugee status and gave me a choice of three countries I could go to, one of which was the United States. I immediately told him that was my choice. But I was only 15 and had no adult or family member with me, so the U.S. embassy would not accept my refugee application until I was 18. I had to spend three years in Turkey doing odd jobs supporting myself until I could become old enough to become a legal refugee.

TRIPP: What happened after you got to the U.S.?

CYRUS: I landed in Chicago. I didn’t know a word of English at the time, but eventually learned the language watching television and the movies. I subsequently got my high school diploma and moved to California where I attended the Arts Institute of California in Los Angeles County. I studied web development, graphics design and digital production.

TRIPP: How do you support yourself?

CYRUS:: I do some graphics work and web design. I also get paid as part of the Glazov Gang, a leading web TV show of the anti-jihadi movement. We also have benefactors who help us in getting our message out.

TRIPP: Where does sharia or sharia law come from?

CYRUS: Sharia is derived from three sources: the Qur’an, the Sunnah (a book on the life of Muhammad) and the hadith (stories told about Muhammad). Sharia is the religious law of Islam.

TRIPP: Tell me about your experience with sharia.

CYRUS: At age nine all the girls in my school class were dressed in white burqas and led into a large room. An Imam on the stage told us that we are all adult women now. He said you will follow Muhammad and die for Allah. You will be married if your father decides it.

TRIPP: Are you still a Muslim?

CYRUS: I am not and never was. Just because you come from an Islamic country doesn’t mean you are a Muslim. Because of my mother’s teachings, I had memorized the Qur’an by the time I was five. But I questioned Muhammad’s teachings as a youth, particularly with regards to how women weremtreated – which would always get me into trouble
in school – so I wasn’t convinced that the Muslim religion was for me. You don’t officially become a Muslim until you are nine and recite the shahada, the Islamic creed. When my class recited the shahada, I just kept my mouth shut. There were so many kids talking, nobody noticed.

TRIPP: Are you religious now?


TRIPP: You recommend all women read something. What is it?

CYRUS: Chapter 4, al-nisa, of the Qur’an, called The Woman. You can find it at

TRIPP: What would happen to you if you went back to Iran?

CYRUS: There is a judgment against me for leaving my husband with the penalty of death by stoning. I have also learned that I am being charged for being a spy for the United States. If convicted, the penalty for that is death by hanging. So I would probably have a choice of death by stoning or death by hanging if I return.

TRIPP: What makes Americans and westerners attracted to Islam?

CYRUS: If you think about it, one of the largest areas for conversion to Islam is in the prisons. That’s because the Qur’an says it’s OK to kill, to kill the infidels. It’s also OK to marry and have sex with nine year olds. That appeals to pedophiles. These behaviors fit right in with a prison population.

Also, sharia can be popular to American women because it offers the man as a protector or provider in the early teachings. It’s only later after the woman has been convinced of the goodness of Islam that the downside of sharia comes to light. It’s like a cult. I call sharia in America “Civilization Jihad.”

TRIPP: Finally, what are your near and long term goals?

CYRUS: My near term goal is to educate as many Americans as possible on sharia. My long term goal is to ban sharia from America.

TRIPP: Thank you, Anni, and good luck.

Final Note: At the end we learned that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) tried to force the American Legion Post in Newton from allowing Anni Cyrus to speak at a planned event on March 11th. The title of Cyrus’ talk was “The US Constitution & Sharia. Can they co-exist?” CAIR called Cyrus an “anti-Muslim speaker” and the sponsor, Act for America, “an Islamophobic hate group.” Fortunately, the Legionnaires adhered to the First Amendment and allowed Cyrus’ talk to go forward.

To learn more about Anni Cyrus, visit and  ¨

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