“Unveiling Dissent: The Rise of Women Taking Off Hijabs in Iran”

2023-05-11 03:30:00

(Tehran, Iran) Billboards in the Iranian capital proclaim that women must wear the obligatory headscarf to honor their mothers. But for perhaps the first time since the chaotic days following the 1979 Islamic Revolution, more and more women – young and old – are deciding not to.

What there is to know

Iran and Afghanistan, controlled by the Taliban, are the only countries where the hijab remains compulsory for women.

Police and volunteers issue verbal warnings in subways, airports and other public places to ensure women wear it.

Protests erupted in September following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was being held for wearing her hijab too loosely.

The open challenge comes after months of protests following the September death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, detained by the country’s vice squad for wearing her hijab too loosely. Although the protests appear to have died down, the decision of some women not to cover their hair in public poses a new challenge to the country’s theocracy. The women’s reaction also exposes schisms in Iran that have been hidden for decades.

Authorities have issued legal threats and closed some businesses catering to women who do not wear the hijab. Police and volunteers issue verbal warnings in subways, airports and other public places. Text messages targeted drivers who had non-veiled women in their vehicles.

But some women have had enough, regardless of the consequences. They say they are fighting for more freedom in Iran and for a better future for their daughters.

Some have suggested that the growing number of women joining their ranks could make it more difficult for authorities to fight back.

“Do they want to shut down all the businesses? said Shervin, a 23-year-old student whose cropped, cropped hair swayed in the wind on a recent day in Tehran. “If I go to a police station, will they close it too? »


Police officers roam the streets of Tehran to ensure that women wear the hijab.

Yet they worry about the risks. The women interviewed gave only their first name, for fear of repercussions.

Vida, 29, says her decision and that of two of her friends to stop covering their hair in public goes way beyond the headscarf.

“This is a message for the government: leave us alone,” she said.

Iran and neighboring Afghanistan, controlled by the Taliban, are the only countries where the hijab remains compulsory for women. Before the protests broke out in September, it was rare to see women without headscarves, although some sometimes let their hijabs fall over their shoulders. Today, in certain neighborhoods of Tehran, it is common to see women without headscarves.

“Immoral” Situations

In 1936, Iranian leader Reza Shah Pahlavi banned the hijab as part of his effort to get closer to the West. The ban ended five years later when his son, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, took power. However, many middle- and upper-class Iranian women chose not to wear the hijab.

During the 1979 Islamic Revolution, some of the women who helped overthrow the Shah adopted the chador, a cape that covers the body from head to toe, except for the face. Images of armed women wrapped in black cloth became a familiar sight for Americans during the US Embassy storming and hostage crisis later that year. But other women protested a decision by Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini ordering the wearing of the hijab in public. In 1983, this decision became law, with penalties such as fines and two months in prison.

Forty years later, women in central and northern Tehran can be seen daily without headscarves. While the Iranian government initially avoided a direct confrontation over the issue, it has increasingly resorted to state powers in recent weeks to try to curb the practice.

In early April, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that “removal of the hijab is not Islamically or politically permissible.”

Hardline media also began publishing details of “immoral” situations in shopping malls, showing women without hijabs. On April 25, authorities closed the 23-storey Opal shopping center in northern Tehran for several days after women with uncovered hair were seen hanging out with men in a bowling alley.

“It’s collective punishment,” said Nodding Kasra, a 32-year-old salesman at a clothing store in the mall. “They closed a shopping center employing hundreds of people because of the hair of some customers? »

There are signs that the repression may intensify. Some clerics have demanded the deployment of soldiers, as well as the all-volunteer Basij Force of the Revolutionary Guards, an Iranian paramilitary body, to enforce the hijab law. Police also say surveillance cameras with “artificial intelligence” will help identify women who do not cover their heads.

But diplomacy has stalled and anti-government protests could spread, he added.

#Iran #Women #renounce #hijab #crackdown

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.