Iranian women have the right to choose their dress
A young Iranian woman died simply because she refused to accept the dress code imposed on her by clerics.
Mysterious are the ways of the human heart. According to Iran’s moral police, a 22-year-old woman with a normal heart died suddenly of a heart attack. No independent autopsy has been performed on Mahsa Amini, a young Iranian woman who has spent her entire life in a country controlled by clerics who have abandoned the spiritual for the temporal. Since the 1980s, the clerical aristocracy in Iran has seen more value – or, in their own words, virtue – in influencing state policy than in studying and reflecting on the theology they claim to be the source of. champion. Mahsa had been detained and taken to a “moral police station”, an incongruous abomination in a country whose civilization can rival that of the Greeks and Romans, not to mention the Indian and Sinic traditions of antiquity. The “moral police” around the world believe that virtue is only as deep as the cloth which, once it covers the body and much of the face, doubles as a certificate of morality. Mahsa’s offense was to have been seen without the abaya, a dress dating back almost two millennia. Judging by the treatment of women who show disrespect for dress that is not one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith, it is clear that the rationale used by Iran’s moral police for imposing the wearing of ‘abaya is not of this faith but pre-Islamic customs. Shortly after Mahsa’s death in police custody from a “heart attack”, social media posts emerged showing the barbaric treatment meted out to women who had for a time dispensed with the abaya (because in Iran, the clerical lords believe, like the Taliban, that wearing not just the hijab but a full abaya is the definitive proof of a woman’s high moral standards). Judging by such an edict, men are so uncontrollable in their urges that the mere sight of a partially uncovered woman leads them to horrific acts of violence against the lady in question. According to this belief, Bondi Beach and other similar seaside getaways must be experiencing an epidemic of assaults on women, which the media seems to cover up. Clerics believe Iran would crumble if women wore an abaya as Mahsa sought to do. According to the version of the death offered by the Iranian police, the moral police were so gentle in their behavior towards Mahsa that there was no “physical encounter” between them and her. They apparently believe that hitting a prisoner with a stick would not constitute “physical” contact. The moral police are so civilized that they never beat a prisoner with their bare hands, but only with “moral” tools like a stick or a whip.
The moral police imply that Mahsa Amini received the comforts of a 5-star hotel in their company. What is implied is that the luxurious treatment given to Mahsa upset the young woman so much that in ecstasy, her heart stopped beating, killing her. Grand Ayatollah Khamenei has been known to speak out whenever US police commit an atrocity, as happened in the police killing of George Floyd two years ago. Given his sensitive soul, the fact that Ayatollah Khamenei has so far not publicly commented on Mahsa Amini’s death indicates that Iran’s Supreme Leader is convinced that Mahsa died not as a result of police brutality but of natural causes revealed by the pure joy experienced by a woman who falls into the custody of the Iranian moral police. Meanwhile, President Ibrahim Raisi has announced a police investigation into the death at the hands of police, in a bid to assuage public anger over how a young woman was killed by Philistines in a country once famous for its culture.
A young Iranian woman died simply because she refused to accept the patriarchal orders of clerics who in their behavior showed none of the compassion, mercy and benevolence that is repeatedly enjoined in the Koran as divine virtues. The murder of an innocent man by the country’s Dark Age police has motivated several young women in Iran to come out into the streets. They came without wearing, according to clerical codes, the long tunic that was fashionable among women in the sandstorm-prone Arabian desert nearly two thousand years ago. Stone faces and despicable behavior seem to be essential requirements for admission into the ranks of the moral police in countries that have such elements in their police force. Ayatollah Khamenei’s lenient attitude towards the moral police indicates that Iran’s Supreme Leader has complete confidence in the correctness of the actions of the moral police. Perhaps the Supreme Leader took an “if you don’t ask, you don’t need to know” attitude about how elements of Iran’s police adopted the standard operating procedure of Savak’s worst elements, the brutal force that terrorized Iranians before the Shah was deposed in 1979? Aware of the anger in the streets caused by the murder at the hands of the moral police of Mahsa Amini, President Raisi ordered an investigation into her death. An investigation by the police, for the police, which is well on the way to discovering that the young woman suffered from a rare heart disease which was suddenly and triggered by the unlimited hospitality of her jailers, sorry, of her educators. For the story told is that Mahsa was forcibly taken to a police station in order to be educated on how to be a virtuous woman. Or rather, to dress in a way that would be enough to see her as a virtuous woman in public, regardless of her behavior in private.
When an educational institution in Karnataka banned the wearing of hijab (headscarf) in its compound some time ago, this columnist opined that a headscarf worn voluntarily (whether black or saffron) was not sufficient grounds for a ban, although wearing an abaya would be. The key word is “voluntarily”. Young women who are forced to wear the headscarf (hijab) or even the abaya are another matter. Wearing a uniform is all that is required in an educational institution. To equate additional clothing with piety or virtue is a fantasy. To stay healthy, society must deny freedom to those elements that seek to coerce others like the Iranian moral police do. Their actions are a violation of rights and must be fought, as they are after the murder of a 22-year-old girl without hijab. The Iranian people want to recover their lives from the grip of a clergy still frozen in extreme patriarchy. Mahsa Amini is a martyr in the battle of the women of Iran to ensure that freedom and not coercion prevail in their ancient land. She will not be forgotten.