The Squandered Emancipation of Iranian Women
Women's liberation is not a one-way street. Iran's women once before were freed from theocratic repression.
When Iran was returned in 1979 to its longstanding status as a Shi'ite theocracy, (i.e., from 1502 to 1925; interrupted by a period of Afghan invasion and internecine struggle, from 1722-1795), following its relatively brief flirtation with Westernization and secularization under Pahlavi rule from 1925 to 1979, one notable commemoration, Women's Emancipation Day, was abolished. The holiday's original date, January 7, commemorated the anniversary of the day in 1937 on which Reza Shah announced at a Girls' High School prize-giving that Iranian women would be forbidden to wear the chador, or veil. Later, the date was moved to February 27th, the anniversary of Muhammad Reza Shah's 1963 speech to the Iranian Senate, proclaiming that women's traditional Shi'ite Islamic legal disabilities would be removed, and most notably, that women would receive the right to vote.
...was received with gloom by the governing class and the younger generation who feared a return to the medieval, mulla-ridden Persia they thought they had left behind for good and all. This fear received some confirmation from the fact that very soon, for the first time in years, women appeared in the streets of Meshed in the chador enjoined by religion but forbidden by the late Shah.
...sermons broadcast from loudspeakers in mosque-minarets [which] not infrequently denounced foreign manners, and many well-educated Iranian ladies resumed the veil..."
- It is regarded as contrary to Islamic Law, the Sharia
- It represents a move toward "Westernization" of manners
- It was preached by non-Muslim infidels in Iran, notably the Bahai. and Christian missionaries, and advocated by Iranian freethinkers, such as the poet Iraj Mirza (d. 1926)
...has never purported to lead a movement presenting an alternative to the regime. Despite his blatant disagreements with the Supreme Leader, he hasn't openly challenged the latter's decision to accept the election results, though, according to reports, he has sought to recruit senior ayatollahs to join his camp within the regime.
...was key in enforcing the strict Islamic dress code (Hejab) on women. She had a major role in forming "Gasht-e Khaharan-e Zeinab", the female street police units that harass women to enforce "Islamic behavior."
...Today most of the young women and girls, who have adopted hejab in toto and have been completely enamored by it, have reached the truth that concealment in entirety is beautiful."...At one time they raise the question of inequality of man and woman in Islam, and at another they harp on the issue of hejab, and so on....In fact, however, (under the illuminating and guiding leadership of Imam Khomeini), millions of common womenfolk have returned to their divine nature, to the dignity of their own Self, and under the loving patronage and protection of the Islamic Republic of Iran we are advancing towards preparing the ground for new legislation, so that on the basis of the Islamic laws and precepts suitable laws may be framed for this period of time for the rights and true worth of the womenfolk in order that all the oppressed women of the world may come to realize that the only way of their deliverance is the path of Islam and not the Capitalist, humanist or Communist ideologies, and that the only guarantee for materializing this objective is the Islamic revolution."...I have understood Islam. I have upheld hejab, You, bloodsucking Oppressors have lost an anti-people stronghold, namely, the woman of the type you had yourself forged, you had yourself trained, you had yourself taught the ideals, the way of walking, talking, laughing, wishing and longing. Of course you had yourself taught all these things to her."...You have now lost such a woman, such a stronghold. How sensitive a stronghold! Hence by the Grace of God and our efforts, this stronghold shall never fall into your hands. Myself and my people, women who form half of the population, and. men who form the other half of the population, have got hold of a stronghold against you and for crushing you. My hejab which is by itself now an Islam personified says that it will crush you. It tells you that it is an avowed enemy of you, the ruling regimes, you the corrupt politicians, you the chosen of the strong, you Pharoahs, Croesuses, imperialists, and (their) stooges. It [my hejab] warns you that in this world you shall be punished by the weak masses and on the Day of Judgement shall be subjected to eternal torture of Hell."...With my Islam, my hejab, and my struggle every day I bring closer the death of you, of your class and of your system...