The anti-Hijab movement in Iran is not a mere protest by Iranian women. Its success will pave the way for total transformation in Iranian society. One may even call it ‘perestroika’ (a political movement of reform within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union) or glasnost (Russian meaning for openness and transparency) of Iran.
For the first time in the global history, the narratives of perestroika and glasnost were used by Mikhail Gorbachev, the late President of the erstwhile Soviet Union, for his political survival in the last days of his presidency.
Due to Gorbachev’s policies, the Soviet Union, a flagship Communist State, was liquidated in 1991. He got the Noble Peace Prize for his efforts but in the countries of the erstwhile Soviet Union, he was dubbed as an agent of the Western world. His exit was highly disgraceful.
Similarly, the whole world is familiar with the uneasy relationship between the USA and Iran. America has all along been against Iran’s nuclear programme. On January 3, 2020, Qasem Soleimani, an Iranian Army Major General, was killed by a US drone strike at Baghdad International Airport.
The anti-American lobby in Iran is blaming America for the anti-hijab movement in the country. Another major country, France, has already banned burqa.
Contrary to official claims, the antihijab movement is spreading like wildfire in the entire Iran. Thousands of women are coming out on the streets on daily basis. They are primarily against the moral policing in the country.
The protests were triggered following the custodial death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman, over improper wearing of her headscarf. Though officials claimed that Amina died due to a heart attack, the edited camera footage they released showed that she collapsed while she was being taken to a ‘reeducation centre’ to receive ‘guidance’ on her attire.
However, based on the reports, while Amini was in detention, she was beaten and probably tortured, which eventually pushed her into a coma, leading to her death. Amina’s father also said that the woman was not suffering from heart ailments and had suffered bruises on her legs. Recently, Hadis Najafi, another young woman whose video of tying her un-scarved hair back and boldly stepping into the middle of a protest went viral, was allegedly shot dead in the country.
Before the religious revolution in 1979, Iran was known to be a modern country where women were allowed to wear as per their choice. With the beginning of the Ayatollah Khomeini era, the civil and individual rights of women in the country were severely curtailed.
The anti-hijab movement was started in 2009 by the progressive women in Iran. They publicly discarded the hijab. Mesha Ali Nezad led the protests, but later she had to leave the country and get asylum in America. Another protest was launched in 2017.
Almost the entire western world, from America to Germany and Italy to France, is supporting the Iranian women’s movement. The United Nations has also expressed concern over the “atrocities” committed by the Iranian Government on protesting women in the country. Women organisations around the world have also announced their support to the Iranian women.
The Iranian Government is under tremendous pressure, both from within and outside. The Western world has successfully isolated Iran from the rest of the world. If the Khamenei Government does not handle the crisis tactfully, it would cost the regime dear. Iran may be in for another revolution.