[Opinion] In solidarity with Iranian women fighting for their freedom

If there is a reason that justifies the choice of secularism as a philosophy of thought and as a political and legal regime, it is the protection of women against religious laws that interfere with their most elementary rights. In Iran, the chador, imposed on women since the Islamic revolution of 1979, is only the most visible emblematic measure of the grip of this totalitarian ideology on them, reducing them to being minors for life.

But the popular revolt is on. Mahsa Amini, killed by the morality police because she did not cover her hair enough, has become the icon of a revolt that does not weaken, despite bloody repression. This revolt reminds us to what extent women’s freedom and equality are precious values ​​that must be protected. These Iranian men and women who are fighting at the risk of their lives to emancipate themselves from a theocratic regime that is suffocating them deserve all our admiration and should inspire us as secularists, humanists and feminists.

Now, what was our dismay when, during the first demonstration of freedom for Iran, which took place on 1er last October in Montreal, the Fédération des femmes du Québec used this Iranian women’s struggle to equate it with Bill 21, insinuating that the government of Quebec, like the mullahs’ regime in Iran, would impose a way of dressing Women’s. These remarks are reminiscent of those of Québec solidaire MNA Christine Labrie, who, during the last election campaign, associated Bill 21 with a form of oppression of women.

We strongly denounce such remarks. To make a connection between the requirement of religious neutrality of certain state employees, including teachers, and the oppression of women is nonsense. It is quite simply a question, for a secular State, of respecting the freedom of conscience of its citizens and of avoiding religious pressures at school. But above all, such an amalgam constitutes a political recovery unworthy of the fight of the Iranian women which aims to demonize the Quebec law on the secularism of the State.

Reducing the struggle of Iranian women to a question of clothing choice is an abyssal ignorance of the reality of women subjected to a totalitarian Islamist regime. The slogan « Woman, life, freedom », chanted in Tehran by women and men who risk their lives by pronouncing these words, obviously does not resonate in the same way for people living in the comfort of a democratic regime which protects their rights.

It is unfortunate that political, municipal and associative representatives thus hijack the concepts to demonize secularism. However, on many occasions in history, secularism has been the best way to free societies, starting with Quebec, from controlling religious powers that are particularly unfavorable to women. To claim that this secularism violates fundamental rights and leads to the oppression of women is either bad faith or ignorance. Secularism does not infringe any freedom, on the contrary it allows to guarantee these freedoms.

It will take a lot of courage, self-sacrifice and sacrifice from the Iranian people to change the established Islamic regime. What can we do to help him? The least we could do is not to divert his message and not to harm his fight by reducing it to a fight for a choice of dress. A minimum of decency is required.

More concretely, we can also do like the Iranian women and hit the streets. This is what the Rassemblement pour la laïcité will do during the second Montreal demonstration of freedom for Iran, which will take place on Saturday, October 22.

To see in video

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