In recent years, Iran has begun mandating Islamic veiling such as the hijab. The enforcement of the hijab in Iran has caused tension within the country, as many women are fighting and protesting against this law.
The term hijab translates to “cover” in the Arabic language. According to Islamic rulings, the hijab has certain conditions it must meet called awrah. In Islam, both men and women have awrahs, but the awrah of the women includes covering the hair, neck, ear and chest as well as a loose fitted garment that covers the body.
In Islam, the hijab is compulsory upon every woman that reaches puberty, but it is not to be forced upon any woman. The Islamic purpose of the hijab is to preserve the beauty of women, and in many ways, the hijab allows women to be perceived and treated beyond the surface level and rather the perceptual level.
The Iranian revolution of 1979, also known as the Islamic revolution, was the start of the enforcement of the hijab in Iran. The overtaking of Iran by Enqelāb-e Eslāmī, a Persian leader, has resulted in an monarchic government in the country since Feb. 11, 1997 has led the country into a disturbanting, violent regime — a regime that has sent the country into political, social and economical authoritarianism.
This regime is better known as the Islamic Regime of Iran, though the government denies its inhumane actions and attempts to cover and erase the brutality of this regime, the Iranian people are increasingly challenging the regime and informing the world of this cruelty.
The Islamic Regime of Iran brought about much resistance and protesting from the Iranian people, especially women. The regime enforced many laws restricting and stripping women of their basic human rights: choice. This further created tension in the country, as the more the people of Iran resisted, the more brutal the regime grew in brutality.
The morality police is exactly what it sounds like. A form of law enforcement that punishes those that do not abide by the laws of the regime. These punishments depend on the office, however big or small. The establishment of the morality police was first sighted in 2019, where women are then treated like criminals, booked for their offense, photographed and forced to take a class about how to wear a proper hijab and Islamic morality. Other reasons that can cause an Iranian to be detained by the morality police are protesting against the regime, supporting those who are protesting against the regime, withholding any books or information that promotes anti-regime narrative and many more.
One of the most common enforcement of the morality police “re-education center,” which are detention centers specifically for women and sometimes men who do not comply with the laws put in place. Another form of punishment is flogging and public humiliation. The purpose of this is not only to punish but present to anyone who attempts to break and not comply with the regime, what awaits them. Lastly, the most brutal of punishments: execution.
Most recently this year, the killing of 22 year old Mahsa Amini caused a massive call for action portesting from the Iranian women and people. Amini, while on a visit with her brother to see her family in the capital, Tehran, was arrested by the morality police for breaking hijab rules. During her detention, she suffered multiple blows to the head that caused her to go into a heart attack on her way to the hospital as she was being beaten to death.
The death of Amini caused a national outcry, as many Iranian women took to the streets protesting by burning the hijab, a religious symbol that many deem to be oppressive. This drew international recognition and many people took to posting on social media; in means of support, many women and men shaved their heads and burned the hijab.
Though the overwhelming support of the Iranian women and people fueled their dedication to fight against this regime, it also raised safe concerns and many women were willing to risk their lives for freedom.
The protests in Iran occurred in 50 cities. This uprising of resistance resulted in the authorities killing over 36 people during the demonstrations. The government also restricted internet access as well as electricity in order to contain the voice of the Iranian people. The Iranian government attempts of silencing the suffering endured by the Iranian people only pushed more international attention as more people took to social media hashtagging #Iran.
Hashtagging has become a powerful and helpful source for informing and protecting Iranians who are at risk of execution. Another trending and helpful tool in aiding the expansion of the Iranian voice was the phrase “for the sake of” or “Baraye.” This is a trending post on Twitter as the frustration of the Iranian people was beginning to be recognized. “For the sake of” was to show how much suffering the Iranian people have tolerated.
The Islamic regime of Iran does not align nor it is condoned by Islam. The laws promoted by the regime are not Islamic practices; they are rather extreme ideologies and views of how women were to behave and be treated. The enforcement of these laws and ideologies are stripping Iranian women of basic human rights and dignity.
Iran is not the only country that has enforced Islamic veiling. Afghanistan also promotes this dangerous regime of controlling women. In a matter of 10 days, the capital and the whole of Afghanistan was recaptured by the Talibans on Aug. 15, 2021.
Taliban translates to “students” in the Arabic language. The Taliban stormed the capital of Kabul in 1996, forcing the then-president to flee and ushering in a period of Taliban rule across the country. This group of “students” later formed into extremist Islamist militants that control the whole of Afghanistan.
As of the past two years, the Taliban began installing laws that mandated the wearing of the hijab and burqa. The burqa covers the entire body including the face. Its sole purpose is to draw less attention to women.
The burqa, which many Muslim women practice, is used in Afghanistan as a means to control and silence the Afghan women. From the start of the uprising of the Taliban, it was made clear that women’s place in society was as mother and wives through restricting women’s education and jobs to simply existing in the outside world. Though Iran and Afghanistan may not view these laws and ideologies as extreme, that is exactly what they are.
In both countries, the abuse and stripping women of the choice to decide presents an issue of how religion, culture and power can blur. Afghanistan banning women from seeking education and enforcing the burqa and Iran enforcing the hijab and silencing women all caused concerns of unrest. Though those concerns are being addressed, they are not yet resolved.