How resisting mandatory Hijab by Iranian women can change the future of the region
Eight months ago, Iran Morality Police arrested a young girl visiting Tehran. Mahsa (Jina) Amini met her death while she was under arrest by the notorious force. Her crime was wearing a mandatory Hijab to loos.
Her death ignited the rage and national protest against the mandatory Hijab and the regime of the Islamic Republic. And the Women, Life, Freedom movement has born.
Now and eight months later, this movement spends its crucial days.
On the surface, the streets of Iran have calmed down, the storm’s drumming has subsided, and conditions have returned to relatively normal.
The regime is back to the reign of terror. The forces of the regime are harassing women and seamlessly executing some protesters.
The Iranian regime appears to have gained numerous advantages. A significant portion of the opposition outside the country, especially those who surfed over the wave of Iranian people’s courage, have fallen silent and engaged in internal disputes among themselves.
The Islamic Republic has been appointed to lead a council of the Human Rights Council at the UN, improving its relationship with Saudi Arabia. Iran’s vital ally in the region, Syria, has emerged from the global crisis thanks to Iran’s support. Saudi Arabia invited Bashhar al-Assad to the meeting of the heads of the states of the Arab League summit after a decade. Furthermore, the reopening of Iranian and Egyptian embassies after years of closure is underway.
Apart from a few exceptions, the streets of Iran are mostly calm, and the regime’s authorities introduce new treats for the people every day.
This scene may seem like the portrayal of a defeated and fading freedom-seeking movement but don’t be deceived.
The primary battle of the Women’s Life and Freedom movement is now at its peak and has just begun.
This is a crucial battle. A battle that will determine the future of Iran, and it is no exaggeration to say that the destiny of this battle has caught the attention of a significant part of the world’s future.
This battle is not metaphorical but a real war, a hand-to-hand combat. It is better to say it is a war that people fight with their bodies.
These days, Iranian women and girls (sometimes with the support of men) are reclaiming the social spaces that had been denied to them.
One of these women described this battle on Twitter, saying, “We have returned to the streets that belonged to us and were taken from us.”
By removing the compulsory Hijab, women and girls attempt to reclaim their social space in the streets.
This is a challenging and suffocating battle. The ruling regime suppresses this uprising by using every opportunity, pretext, and action. Arrests, threats, imprisonment, fines, torture, and executions have been part of the regime’s tactics to suppress this enduring battle. However, Iranian women have managed to reclaim the fortresses that were once the absolute realm of authority.
The regime strikes with every blow, from threatening to identify faces through smart cameras to threatening imprisonment, banning education, and shutting down businesses where unveiled women are present. And women, alongside many men, resist these threats.
They genuinely put their lives and bodies on the line for this battle. Please pay no attention to the scandalous gossip of some merchants of this movement outside Iran, who is now preparing a list to settle their scores.
Young girls, middle-aged women, and those with experience rise against years of threats and humiliations, not only from the regime but sometimes even from their own families. They have to emerge victorious in the battle with themselves every day.
Many girls and women, with anxiety and concerns but courage and strong hearts, risk their safety in the hope of freedom against regime threats and the well-intentioned concern of friends and relatives. They assert that they are not willing to retreat from their rights.
This battle is an ongoing one, taking place in the streets, parks, cinemas, theatres, beaches, mountains, homes, burial ceremonies, classrooms, and both public and private settings.
A while ago, Mehdi Nasiri, an insider figure in the regime, mentioned a meeting between commanders of the Revolutionary Guards with Ali Khamenei. According to him, when some of these commanders suggested that the regime should make some social reforms, The supreme leader emphasized that he was firmly standing on his four red lines and unwilling to step back from them. However, he is willing to show flexibility in other matters.
Engaging in dialogue with the United States, supervisory oversight on the elections, the house arrest of the leaders of the Green Movement, and the compulsory Hijab are the four fundamental pillars on which the aging leader of the regime sees his survival and the future of his dynasty stand upon them.
People may not be able to change foreign policy matters or changes in the supervisory oversight law at this stage. However, every unveiled girl who steps out of her house, every business that opens its doors to them, every man and woman who rises to defend and support revealed women in the face of warnings from regime agents or their aggression, is undermining and destroying one of these pillars.
It is perhaps regrettable that, for various reasons, nowadays, it seems less likely to suggest that people restart chanting the names of the leaders of the Green Movement in cities and villages during their protests.
Mir Hossein Mousavi, who has explicitly spoken about the necessity of changing the system to save Iran, cannot and is not expected to play a role in the future. However, these days, the repetition of his name and the cry for his freedom can weaken the second pillar of the four pillars of the velayat.
But one thing is clear: the decisive battle for the future of Iran, and perhaps a part of the world, lies in the hands of women and girls within Iran.
What Sepideh Roshanoo, a young woman who was arrested during a confrontation with one of the supporters of the regime and banned from back to university and yet continues to show up without Hijab, and others like her are doing, and their refusal to take a step back despite all the costs, their continued presence with optional Hijab in the streets, and the images they share on their social networks, are, is the hearth of a glorious battle that determines our fate.
Our lives and the life of Iran are now intertwined with the locks of Iranian women’s hands and hair.
This story was originally published on Vocal.media