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Simin Behbahani obituary

Iran's most famous female poet and defender of human rights

Simin Behbahani, who has died aged 87, was Iran's most famous female poet, credited with reinventing the ghazal, the lyrical sonnet associated with the classical Persian poets. She was known as the Lioness of Iran for defending human rights and women's rights under both the Shah and the Islamic Republic. Despite the dangers she faced from the authorities, whom she constantly challenged over rights abuses, she remained in Iran until her death.

In 2011 the US president, Barack Obama, recited from one of her poems in a new year message to Iranians: "Old I may be but, given the chance, I will learn. I will begin a second youth alongside my progeny. I will recite the Hadith of love of country with such fervour as to make each word bear life."

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