The oppression of the veil | The duty

Periodically, the anger of Iranian men and women rises to the surface.

In June 2009, a stolen presidential election led to massive demonstrations against a power that had just falsified the results and dismissed the real winner, Mir-Hossein Moussavi (still under house arrest in 2022), in favor of the outgoing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In doing so, the regime abandoned the little democracy that remained in the Iranian political system (the pluralistic presidential election).

The protesters, often young people who had just voted for the first time, had demonstrated for several weeks, to protest against the stolen election, the absence of political freedom and corruption. The terrible crackdown on huge protests in Tehran and elsewhere had killed at least 150 people that summer.

At the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020, it will be the working classes, slaughtered by the economic crisis and inflation, who will demonstrate in turn. The repression is even more ferocious than in 2009: between November and January, the Reuters agency estimates the number of violent deaths at 1,500. overall cause of the system.

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At the beginning of autumn 2022, here we are again. Under the beautiful slogan “Woman, life, freedom! it is not electoral cheating or economic misery that this time triggers anti-regime demonstrations in the four corners of Iran. This is the misogyny of the Islamic Republic.

Spark plug: disgust in the face of the Islamic veil, experienced as a heavy symbol of oppression. Soon two weeks after the death of a young woman arrested – then beaten to death – for « improper attire », demonstrators by the tens, if not by the hundreds of thousands, are crying out across the country « Down with the veil! » and « Death on a diet! » « .

On July 5, a tough law “on the hijab and chastity” came into force, replacing the previous one, with new dress restrictions imposed on women. The obligatory headscarf must no longer only cover the head, but also the neck and shoulders.

The ultra-conservative president elected a year earlier, Ebrahim Raisi, called for full application of this new code of Islamic virtue.

Thus encouraged by the authorities, the brigades of the « morality police » let loose, beating to their heart’s content the sluts and the lost who dared to show a few locks of hair, a hint of bare shoulders…

In Iran, the chastity and modesty of women is a matter of honor and a matter of state.

The compulsory veil is one of the symbolic pillars of the regime: it was moreover one of the first decisions taken by the Ayatollah Khomeini, on March 7, 1979, three weeks after taking power… the eve of the international day women who had just been instituted by the United Nations!

After 43 years of this regime, the hijab is one of the great subjects of daily frustration and humiliation for women in Iran.

It took this tragedy of the young Mahsa Amini, who, beyond a beating and a conviction (supposed to serve as a warning), lost her life at the hands of the morality police, to refresh our memory. .

The demonstrations have so far affected 80 cities in the country, in the capital, in Iranian Kurdistan (especially mobilized: the young Mahsa was Kurdish), but also in Qom, a conservative city south of Tehran and in localities of all the regions.

Many of these protests were led by women, who were seen burning their headscarves and chanting « Death to the dictator! » », Followed by men, often young, expressing their solidarity. We have not often seen, in this country, men and women with their hair in the wind, demonstrating hand in hand in complete equality…

In 2009, in the demonstrations which had followed the electoral fraud, there was a minority of women, who however remained veiled. This time, many dropped the veil altogether, arm in arm with the men, sometimes carrying their burning hijabs on the end of a stick.

We have also seen, on social networks, Iranian women displaying their bare heads – a sign of mourning – to protest against the death of a woman arrested and killed for “indecent dress”.

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On September 20, the France 24 channel collected the testimony of a 24-year-old demonstrator from Sanandaj, capital of Iranian Kurdistan, in the north-west of the country, which deserves to be reproduced:

“I demonstrate with people dancing and crying. I’m tired of being a slave to these Islamists. I swore to myself that I would never wear the veil again. Every day I see hundreds of women who do the same, to free themselves from this oppression. »

Beyond the question of “freedom of choice”, we are witnessing an uprising against the Islamic veil as a specific oppression of women… This is the first – but not the only – subject of these protests.

Dictatorial, economically corrupt, the Islamic Republic is also fundamentally misogynistic. After 2009, 2017, 2019, it is the cause of women that is reviving resistance to the regime today. Will she manage to shake him?

François Brousseau is an international business analyst at Here Radio Canada.

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