Thursday, April 26, 2007

Bad Hejab

“Nuclear power is our inalienable right,” the staff of my favorite supermarket greets me as I walk into the bustling store. “It’s all your fault that the police are outside picking up women.” They are joking of course. They like to make fun of me when I come into the store.

Some people I know have yet to see the packs of police ushering women into awaiting minibuses, but my regular stomping grounds are in the heart of bad-hejabland. “At least the police are polite here,” a taxi driver tells me. They have to be polite. They are being watched by neighbors with cameras and internet connections. “You should see them over at some of the other spots. They are really going after women with force and being rough.”

A few nights ago Iranian tv featured some official denying that women had been picked up by force. “We’re just talking to them. We have not begun arresting anyone.”

“It’s nothing,” everyone says to me. “They do this every year.”

“I’ve been here more than three years, and I have never seen the police so organized about picking up women before. I’ve never seen them flag down cars before.”

“You’re right,” people admit.

Say whatever you would like: that we are wrong to take this issue so seriously, that most Iranians support the crackdown on hejab, that this will pass… I will tell you this: enforcing hejab makes me feel insecure and mistrustful. I am nervous walking down the street. I do not trust anyone. Why should I? I am wearing this scarf and manteau by force. Therefore, there can be no trust. If I had come to the decision to wear hejab on my own, and wore it because of choice, faith, or even subtle social pressure, that would be different. But I wear hejab because of force and that force has been even more visible the past week. Force will never allow me to make a religious choice of my own free will. It's a ridiculous notion.

The crackdown is a very visible symbol of oppression. So, some men are being picked up (or spoken with) for wearing ties or too much hair gel. That hardly compares to the insecurity of being a woman.


Anger at Iran dress restrictions

Islamica Community Forums: Anger at Iran dress restrictions

Iran police move into fashion business

Iran police swoop on slipping headscarves

Summer Veil Program in Iran, By Kamangir


christopher said...

this is from one of your links:

"The current situation is shameful for an Islamic government. A man who sees these models on the streets will pay no attention to his wife at home, destroying the foundation of the family," said Mohammad Taghi Rahbar, a member of the culture committee of the Iranian parliament.

and so shame on you if you are out there wrecking homes and destroying the foundation of the family while shopping for fruit.

Anonymous said...

You should also mention that alot of the security forces that go around telling women and men to dress more modestly are actually women!

christopher said...

after watching again the 'morality' arrest of the woman that is circulating;
i'm compelled to comment on how similar the reaction of the woman is to how i would imagine that of a woman being raped.

not being a woman, i realize that i'm way out of bounds on this, but isn't this is some way tantamount to rape? i mean, besides being victim of the act, there is the humiliation. and the submission. physical scars can heal, but i wonder what of the women as they are dragged in humilation and submission into a police car (ie behind a dumpster in a dark alley). while a crowd looks on, no less!

what i someone told these people who condone and sanction this, that they are not 'protecting' 'their' women, but rather raping their own sisters, and mothers and daughters.

what will they say? will they do what many rapists do in their own minds, and blame their victim for their crime?

m. p. said...

ET, you say "...enforcing hejab makes me feel insecure and mistrustful. I am nervous walking down the street. I do not trust anyone. Why should I? I am wearing this scarf and manteau by force. Therefore, there can be no trust."

Not surprisingly, the leader of Tehran's Friday prayers has a different opinion. Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami praised the new rules, saying that "in the past week the great majority of the population has felt more secure and protected by police. Anyone criticizing police will attract the ire of the population."


These strange times must be so very wearing for so many. One wonders if ANYthing can rouse the ire of the population.

Strength and courage, mes amis. And to you, ET. Blog on, sister!

Anonymous said...

Didn't Shahroudi, the head of the judiciary write something in one of the more moderate papers condemning this act?

Hossein said...

Something good might come out of it after all: those indifferent people who are only too busy shopping for the latest fashion and going to parties will now understand that oppression is not just for workers, teachers or university students.Each part of the iranian society is now affected by a different form of oppression.Hopefully, this will turn more and more people's attention to the root of all problems: the very presence of a religious government.

Franziska said...


I don't know much about the situation in your country, but I know a dictatorship when I see one.

Please, please, please! Stop it now, until your gouvernment leaves you as a guilty nation... there's some blood that can never be washed off. (I'm German, I know what I'm talking of.)

Don't hesitate. There must be more than one who doesn't like what's going on in your country...

Hossein said...

franziska,don't u think that there were germans in 1930's who could see it coming? but predicting something can't always prevent it.The oppression is harsh and the price to pay is huge

Chris said...

It looks like "western" hairstyles for men have also been banned.

But what the hell is a Western hairstyle?

Chris said...

Aggh, sorry, I couldn't post the entire link. It's a story on the CNN website.

leila said...

I dont have a long coat(manteau)and all I have stick to my body and police refers to it as bad hejab.if I get out to buy one that they think is an islamic deress, police would catch me because I have nothing to wear not to be catched by police.

just a reader said...

The Islamic Republic is using this ‘bad hejab’ thing as diversion tactic. If the nation is too busy being arrested over what they are wearing in hot summer days, they will not have time to ask questions about the continuous economical failings of the regime and the missing oil money and rapid isolation of Iran. If the poor and economically devastated sections of the society question government failings, the ‘bad hejb’ is the scapegoat. The socially conservative masses are told ‘the cause of your suferings is the social decay we are facing caused by women who demand economical and judicial justice. Iranian feminists, bad hejabs, the young and restless, intellectuals, academics, workers, bus drivers, teachers and basically anybody who dares to challenge the regime is accused of something and used as scapegoat.

In US, if the average citizen questions the disappearing civil liberties, she/he is accused of ‘aiding the enemy while we are engaged in a global war on terror’. Rove and Bush also use diversion tactic by using social conservative hot buttons issues such as abortion and gay marriage to divert the attention of poor people in key demographics. There is so much to be said about the similarities between the systems that are operating in US and Iran at the moment.

(love the blog by the way.)

RickB said...

Hello, I'm running a little thing called Iran Blogapalooza and I've included View From Iran in my latest update
Hope that's ok, keep up your good work!

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