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SPECIAL REPORT: Your Veil is a Battleground I

by HAMID FAROKHNIA in Tehran

03 Jul 2010 21:5330 Comments

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Hejab Politics: Old Hat and New

Increasing numbers of Iranian women resist the veil, as hardliners search for enforcers.

As the Islamic Republic of Iran's domestic and international problems multiply -- courtesy of the democratic movement and its own myopic policies -- its myriad factions are shifting blame for the system's cascading ills. One of the pressing concerns, maintenance of the mandatory veil, is not finding many willing enforcers. The problem is compounded by the fact that, in sharp contrast to the early years after the Revolution, the majority of Iranians are now opposed to compulsory veiling of any kind.

Part One

The Revolution and the Veil

According to Iran's fundamentalists, the purpose of the mandatory veil is to protect women's honor and the moral health of the citizenry. In fact, it has served a variety of purposes, only one of which is the observance of a religious obligation. Covering up political shortcomings, relieving men's sexual anxieties, rewarding its supporters, and providing a tool for control and repression are some of the primary benefits for those who have imposed or supported it.

On June 13, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made a series of jaw-dropping comments on live television that shocked his admirers and detractors alike. "Some [men] get all worked up the moment there is the issue of women," he said. "Whenever there are moral problems, they [the men] are to blame." He added, "We really consider it an effrontery that a couple are stopped on the street and asked about their relation to one another. No one has the right to ask them this kind of question. It is wrong in my opinion and the government will respond wherever it can."

In the last few months, millions of women across Iran have used the post-election loosening of social strictures to push back their headscarves, wear tighter-fitting clothes, and ignore the oppressive codes of conduct to a degree not seen since the first year after the Revolution.

While the Iranian public is amply accustomed to the president's boldfaced lies and prevarications, there are reasons to take him at his word on this occasion. At a time when the Green Movement's activists are rethinking the efficacy of street protests, a new
heavy-handed campaign against so-called "immodestly dressed" women holds the potential to reignite street clashes and further radicalize the movement. Beyond that, it would add to the distaste in which many Iranians already hold their president. Ahmadinejad's surprising intervention is thus entirely understandable from a strictly political point of view.

Still, as experts universally agree, the Iranian regime has little choice but to take action against "poorly veiled" women sooner or later, or risk losing face with its hardcore support base.

Hejab, or the veil, is no minor political issue in Iran. Over the past three decades, the country's leaders have foolishly made it out to be the cornerstone of their ideology and its imposition a touchstone of religious authenticity. The regime "has peddled the propaganda line that its very existence is tied to this issue," said a University of Tehran academic and author to Tehran Bureau. "Failing to enforce mandatory hejab now would erode its own legitimacy and doctrinal basis. Therefore, the question is not if it will move against women but when, by which method, and through which state organs."

Background

On March 8, 1979, several thousand secular women marched through downtown Tehran in protest against compulsory veiling. They were wildly jeered by a few hundred religious fanatics who hurled all manner of insults at them, comparing them with "Western dolls" and "mindless mannequins."

Within weeks of the protest march, the secular women of Iran conclusively lost the battle for their country's version of freedom of choice. Not only did hejab become compulsory in public, a strict code of conduct was also imposed on women of all classes and ages. Soon women were excluded from certain public activities and even certain public spaces. Thus began a process of severe marginalization of women, a process that lasted well into the 1990s.

"What those well-meaning women didn't realize," said the academic, "was that they were not just up against a few thousand vigilantes and nutty zealots. Rather, veiling had the active or tacit support of the majority of the Iranian population."

Of course, the resulting utopia turned out to be quite different from what most people had envisioned, but there is no question of the enormous faith most Iranians had placed in the ruling ideology. There were several reasons for this. Many, including some secular Iranians, were genuinely taken in by the Revolution's universalistic and emancipatory impulses. They thus either turned a blind eye to or actively aided the regressive side of the new Islamic movement.

Some others were so incensed by the undemocratic nature of the old regime that they automatically identified with its supposed antithesis. And aside from all those millions of believers who sought salvation in the new movement, there was another group, particularly in the traditional middle classes, who believed they had found the road to true authenticity. It may be fair to refer to aspects of this infatuation as "Muslim chic."

The resulting aggregation of people with various interests and hopes was at best indifferent and at worst at odds with the aspirations of a secular democratic movement, then in its infancy.

But this is not the whole story. "In fairness," said the academic, "the veil did bring some dividends to certain social categories." Many traditional women, numbering in the millions, who had been prohibited till then by their husbands or fathers to work outside the home or pursue university studies, suddenly gained access to these proscribed places thanks to the new "moral" codes.

"Some of these women would not engage in such activities of their own volition, because they feared unwanted sexual attention or simply abhorred the so-called male gaze [namahram]," said the academic. "The gender segregation and its attendant behavioral codes allowed these women the kind of freedom of movement that they could only dream about before the revolution."

As far as working class women were concerned, hejab was never a central preoccupation of theirs. Even if they were not conservative and tradition-bound, wearing it reduced sexual harassment and was therefore essential in tough work environments. The imposition of mandatory veiling, thus, had a complex range of effects.

Modernity's Revenge

The social context in which the veil was widely accepted, particularly in the first decade after the Revolution, has undergone deep and lasting changes. Among the factors most often cited by sociologists for this cultural shift are mass urbanization, the spread of higher education, the exigencies of state-building, increasing overseas travel, the demise of traditional professions, globalization, and the communication revolution.

The Azad University system of higher learning with more than 400 campuses stretching to the remotest corners of the country made it possible for millions of children of traditional families to get a taste of modern forms of education -- on top of the scores of tuition-free state universities accessible to working-class youth. In turn, the ubiquitous appearance of urbane and secular young women in the provincial campuses forever changed gender relations in the traditional bastions of conservatism. (As matters of gender form "the beating heart" of conservatism in Muslim societies, it also transformed conservatism itself, but that is a separate issue.)

For its part, rapid industrial and capitalist development struck a serious blow to the economic mainstays of traditionalism, small commodity production and distribution. The Tehran bazaar, for example, has undergone important changes since the early 1970s. So has the countryside.

As for the communication revolution, according to a recently published survey by the Iranian government, 46 percent of the residents of Tehran have satellite TV in their homes. Of these, almost half watch Farsi1 on a daily basis. In some provinces, such as Kurdistan, the viewership is even higher. Farsi 1, a new Persian-language channel owned by Rupert Murdoch, runs mostly foreign soap operas and situation comedies, which at times include quite racy themes, dubbed into Persian.

The cumulative impact of these changes on the status of hejab can not be underestimated.

The Old Politics of Hejab

hejabsign.jpg The new ruling class quickly set out to capitalize on its gains after the Revolution by turning fundamentalist precepts into the only permissible norms. To ensure compliance, disciplinary measures were codified in terms of state law and cast as a divinely mandated legal code. Among these were the dress code and an unstated behavior code that undergirded it.

"The important point," said the academic, "is that there was much more to this than a simple application of Sharia [Islamic law]." First, the new ruling elite sculpted Sharia to suit its imperatives of statecraft. Second, in the name of safeguarding a divinely sanctioned paradise on earth, it freely used Sharia -- sometimes to the detriment of Sharia itself -- for its immediate political goals. Enforcement of mandatory hejab occupied pride of place in this scheme.

The following pronouncement from a top leader of the radical fundamentalists eloquently captures the instrumentality of hejab in the Islamic Republic: "It is necessary for brother Basijis [militia] and NAJA [state police] personnel in the next two to three months -- i.e., before the start of the next Majles [parliament] -- to considerably ramp up their cultural, moral, and social pressures with their Islamic punishments so that the middle classes feel outraged and disillusioned with the Reformists." These words were uttered by Hossein Panahi in a panel discussion with several other leaders of veterans and vigilante groups on the eve of the Reformist-dominated 6th Majles.

According to French theorist Michel Foucault, all modern governments exert social control through the manipulation of their citizen's will and desires, though this is done mostly inconspicuously, even invisibly. The Iranian regime, which combines elements of modern and premodern forms of statecraft, engages in both overt and covert mechanisms of social control that have not been seen before, wherein the centrality of mandatory veiling.

At times, this has taken on truly Kafkaesque dimensions. According to a retired NAJA officer, by 1997, the year Mohammad Khatami captured the presidency, there were in Tehran alone hundreds of thousands of individual files at the headquarters of Amaken, NAJA intelligence, on women who had been detained and interrogated for "acting immodestly" or "dressing improperly". (This does not even count the millions of young people who had been stopped and let go without an arrest.) Some of the files involved questions of the most intimate nature imaginable. It is more than likely that many of these women did not speak of their experiences to their husbands or families. In a still-conservative society like Iran where the stigma of "impropriety" or "errancy" can lead to dire consequences for women, the state could exert vast powers of control and surveillance over ordinary Iranians through the mere threat of detention by the morality police. It could wield this power at will by loosening or tightening it wherever it suited its interest.

There was more to hejab politics than the large-scale concerns of the state. At the lower rungs of society, the various codes of "modesty" centered on the veil served a more subtle though no less invidious purpose: Any avowedly fundamentalist individual could stop a citizen, deliver an admonishment, and demand the rectification of their behavior. This sort of ad hoc morality code enforcement was rationalized under the Qu'ranic phrase "Enjoinment of Good and Prohibition of Evil". If an altercation ensued, law enforcement officers were routinely instructed to come down on the side of the fundamentalist. This in effect was a hidden part of the patronage system the Islamic Republic has perfected throughout the years. For millions of the regime loyalists who had benefited meagerly in material terms from the system, there was always the added bonus of "feeling" superior to others; no matter how intellectually inferior or unattractive you were, you could always lord it over someone else to feel a sense of empowerment.

The same incentive has operated, albeit at a much higher level, for the radical cadres and regime activists who have considered the use of violence -- physical, psychological, or discursive -- against "inferior" social groups such as secular women a deeply transcendent experience. They have this in common with the adherents of fascist ideologies.

No wonder therefore that hejab has been called "the beating heart of the religion" and no wonder that compulsory veiling has been turned into the sine qua non of the regime's viability.

Please click here for Part 2.

Photos: A billboard in downtown Tehran paid for by an Iranian bank shows the nexus of religion and big finance; it reads: "Being immodestly-veiled is a disagreeable practice and being properly-veiled is an established tradition among Iranians." Archive photo at the top: before hejab was enforced after the revolution.

Hamid Farokhnia, a staff writer at Iran Labor Report, covers the capital for Tehran Bureau. He writes under a pen name.

Copyright © 2010 Tehran Bureau

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30 Comments

I am so curious about exactly how the Islamic women feel in regards to being "blamed" for mens personal weaknesses in nature..?? I live in a tiny town in America (Hereford, Arizona), and having grown up in a "modesty is Godly" home myself, I do believe that women SHOULD be modest, but, you can be modest without having to be completely covered in black cloth...we should not be blamed for a mans "sexual issues"!!! A woman should be judged on her character, not if she wears a "veil" to hide herself. BUT.., I am very curious as to how female Iranians feel about this requirement.., maybe they have "no issue/problem" with it..and therefore perhaps the media makes a bigger deal of this than it really is..???! Respond back please...

meda henderson / July 3, 2010 2:22 AM

I dont think it is such a big issue here there lot of people out here who dont have any problem with viel they are more comfortable in it.
There are also some which dont want it. But over all its not such a big issue as the west makes it to be just to ignite people. It just routine here to put some covering doenst make it even a big deal as everyone is using it.

Feroze Irani / July 3, 2010 11:41 AM

güzel ülke iran

hikmet / July 3, 2010 7:35 PM

Ok, I'm probably going to offend alot of people here, but this is not my intention..................

It seems to me that alot (not all, of course) of devout Muslim men have real "issues" with their sexuality.

I saw an interesting article the other day. It was about a disease that Mohammad had that may have led him to have a very active libido, but at the same time makes one impotent. Thus the reason why he had many wives he wanted to visit often and why he wanted them to be covered so no other man may see them and be turned on by them, because he may have been worried that he was not satisfying them.

muhammad billy bob / July 3, 2010 11:10 PM

Hikmet,

Thank you on behalf of all Iranians. It is good to hear something nice once in a while. I personally love Turkey too. Turkey brings back happy memories of pre 1979 Iran for my mother.

Meda,

My mother sends her regards to you. She wants you to know prior to 1979 people of all faiths lived side by side without any difficulties and quite respectfully as the black and white picture clearly shows. Those who chose to wear the chador (cover) could do so in any moderate choice of colors. Those who chose not to excersized the right to dress modestly as you stated or even push the envelope parallel with the latest fashions of the time. And Iran never suffered from the level of prostitution that has plagued its society today.
There are published direct statements from Khomeini himself promising the nation that Islamic dress code "was not compulsory" and yet much of his early promises turned out to be nothing but pure lies. It was not too long before Islamists were chanting "Ya roosari, Ya toosari" which literally translated from Persian means, “either a scarf or a pounding on the head."
As it turned out, with the passage of time the restrictions got tighter and punishments harsher. The tragedy of the last 31 years has clearly shown that covering up a human being has no effect on her conduct and morality. What people used to do out in the open in the past is done behind closed doors today. Many Iranians tell me, "people used to pray inside as in their homes and places of warship and party outside", "Now, they pray outside as in show off and party inside."
Many Iranian women once inside and in the presence of friends and family take off the covers anyways. Such is the reality of Iran.

Long live freedom, our God given right.

Niloofar / July 4, 2010 1:41 AM

Well written and interesting article on a touchy subject. My only comment was with regards to the following: "For millions of the regime loyalists who had benefited meagerly in material terms from the system, there was always the added bonus of 'feeling' superior to others; no matter how intellectually inferior or unattractive you were, you could always lord it over someone else to feel a sense of empowerment."

I know where you're going, Hamid, but "intellectually inferior or unattractive?!" Please... You have to be careful categorizing people this way. Just b/c someone is a regime loyalist or strongly believes in the veil, those adjectives are not appropriate to use IMO, nor accurate.

Other than that, I enjoyed reading it.

Kaveh / July 4, 2010 3:24 AM

Dear Niloofar,


Actually, I get a different sensation from the lead photo: there is a frosty disdain between the kalaq-damaq pair on the right and the shabby duo on the left.


Many thanks for channeling your mom's wisdom, which can be roughly summarized as follows:


"Pre-revolution rocks, post-revolution sucks"


By the way, my mom told me that Barbari bread tasted much better before the revolution.

Ali from Tehran / July 4, 2010 6:14 AM

Dear Ali from Tehran,

As a male, I am sure you wholeheartedly understand the roller coaster ride of emotions that Iranian women have experienced since the revolution. Thank you for your wonderful and insightful input.

And those shameful, "shabby" women on the left, wearing jeans, t-shirts and, cover your eyes, no hejab!... Tut tut. Thank god we had a revolution.

Pak / July 4, 2010 6:06 PM

Dear Pak,


Shabby was not considered shameful in the 70s. Shabby was a la mode.


Your own insight in associating women with "a rollercoaster ride of emotions" is even more wonderful than mine.


Personally, I find women to be more grounded, logical and reasonable than men. But I defer to your better judgement on all issues feminine.

Ali from Tehran / July 4, 2010 7:23 PM

"shabby"? I think the pair on the left look very respectable. The pair on the right I would not dare to apporach even if I was lost and needed directions. I wouldn't warn them that they are about to walk into large hole in the street. They are clearly giving the message that they are unfriendly, and want to be isolated from others.

muhammad billy bob / July 4, 2010 8:04 PM

Having a Choice in the life to wear the styles or type of cloths is a human right. I personally prefer the styles from the 1940's. Men in suits or farming trousers, women with knee long skirts etc... I find this attractive and in my opnion wholesome. I have 5 grown childred who probably do not share the same opinion, but to FORCE them to wear something that hides who they are, I can't imagine the burden these muslim women have endured. I have read about the fanatical religious beatings and floggings in public,it is a shame. Is this of GOD. NO! and it never will be. So if it is in the name of religion someone got off the track long time ago without proper correction.

Keith / July 5, 2010 7:39 AM

Extending Keith's logic on choice. Some go even further and see it their God given right to walk about on earth as we all came on this earth - naked. History as we know it has not recorded of a single instance of a human child ( including all the sages, saints, prophets (true and false), apostles and so on) as being born with clothes on. However the choice of what dress is appropriate to wear in public, and hear I think religion has become mixed up with custom and tradition, is one that each society has to work it for itself. The black chador is a drab dress, but it is cheap, easy to put on, and more a symbol of national identity than religious. This and the dress that most ulama wear in Iran actually pre-date Islam but got woven into the fabric of Islam due to its exhortation for both men and women to behave and dress modestly and thus the previously national dress of honour become one of religious and national honour. Today, most Muslim women choose to wear the hejab out of choice and are increasingly as a protest against over sexualised images of women that are found now all over the world. I think the reasons are no longer simply 'religious'. It is more a case of asserting one's uniquely different self identity, in a world where all differences are increasingly being blurred and merging into boredom of appearing to be all the same. Iran should however liberalise the law or apply it lightly as AN wishes to do.

rezvan / July 6, 2010 4:50 AM

Interesting range of opinions listed here..., but I'm sure that a lot of women wear it to "please" someone else- because w/ the climate/temperature over there, the last thing you WANT to wear is something black and full length. ~~~ I do want to say though, that it is sad how America portrays its own women...:( not all of us dress/act the way that Hollywood/movies portray us as, and I do wonder if the Iranian government is concerned that it's women would start to "act" like the other women of the world..?? We also hear so much about "stoning" of women ...is that something that is exaggerated? It sounds to me like WOMEN ARE MORe POWERFUL than they want them to realize...i think women from the middle east are the most beautiful women in the world.

meda / July 6, 2010 8:34 PM

rezvan,

In Iran it is not a choice.They are not choosing anything. It is a requirement by law. I went to Egypt last year, and there were many women in hejab. It was certainly not "most" as you say. Many, less around the western hotels where they were outside of the sight of Muslim men and their insecurities. In Egypt they are not require by law and fear of punishment to wear this.

Why would Egyptian women not wear the hejab in front of the very people they are supposedly protesting against over sexualizing women? It might be because they are not required by law to do so.

muhamad billy bob / July 6, 2010 9:37 PM

bob? or muhammad? or billy? - merging identities??? or schizophrenia???
It is true that women are required by law to wear hejab in public in Iran and not Egypt and that women who wear hejab in Turkey are unable to enter certain educational institutions and the outrage that Turkey's secular elite in the military and elsewhere raised when the President's wife turned up in hejab at state ceremonies. Turkey is of course a member of NATO and until recently the closest Muslim ally of Israel and the US. Egypt is essentially a colony of the US and its economy would quickly collapse where it to withdraw its subsidy and the huge support and backing the Egyptian armed forces receives from the US for acting as Israel's henchmen by deliberately sealing the border with Gaza and seek into starving the Gazans into submission for daring democratically to elect a Hamas govt. against the wishes of the US and its friends including those in Fatah.
The law of hejab was put in place due to overwhelming public opinion wanting it at the time. If as is now being suggested by the police and those responsible for enforcing it that they are happy to enforce it provided that is what the public in the particular localities want them to do. The good thing is despite all the stereotypical view of IRI presented by US funded outlets, what the current debate shows that in actual fact IRI is a much more democratic society than its detractors would like the world to believe. Even on such an emotive and sensitive issue where as this article points out, the traditional clerics take a hardline position yet it was possible for the President to take a totally different view. Is that not what 'democracies' are about or is a country only 'democratic' when its people choose rulers who are submissive to the Western agenda for their peoples and their region?

rezvan / July 7, 2010 3:35 AM

Very beautiful rezvan, very beautiful. How you managed to divert a debate on the enforcement of hejab in IRAN into a denunciation of Turkey, Egypt, the US, Israel and Fatah of all people, I just do not know. But it is beautiful. Good work.

You of course failed to provide an answer to muhamad billy bob's point, but who cares. Damn those Americans! Death to America!

Pak / July 7, 2010 4:22 AM

I enjoyed this article throughtly. fairness and insight are good ingridients in it. about Meda andersons question I must say, modesty is still widely accepted among iranian society. but you must underestand that a big number of youth in my generation ( late 80's ) are growing more secular than ever before. It's not only that. even the believers are having second thoughts about how to interpret hejab and modesty that it suits their modern lifestyle and free thinking and individualism. So more than a religious problem in my opinion we are dealing with a resitance among women due to aspiration and longing for freedom of expression and believe

heidi / July 7, 2010 4:55 AM

Rezvan,

In a democratic society people are given a chance to exercise their rights. Can we put hejab to vote in Iran? Can the women of Iran decide for themselves to exercise their God given right of freedom and wear what they really want?

You claim, "The law of hejab was put in place due to overwhelming public opinion wanting it at the time." That is a lie and you know it. I do not appreciate a Lebanese spreading lies on behalf of Iranians. How is life in England buddy? Who is paying for your expenses? Only a few months ago you were referring to Khamenei as “ordained.” Meanwhile, the whole world watched the murdering thug in action. Ahmadinejad’s is nothing but a cheap lip service. People are not blind and see the realities on the streets of Iran.

Only a few months after the biggest liar of all times Khomeini who had announced publically that "hejab" was not compulsory (it is documented) returned to Iran, the Islamist like you were threatening women to cover up or take a beating in public. They even knifed a few women in public to make their barbaric point.

And with regard to your other statement, "the Islamic Republic is here to stay." You are dreaming. I have told you before, get a life and get a real job and live a productive life. Your time is up. GOOD BYE.

Niloofar / July 7, 2010 5:13 PM

There is nothing I could say that would be better than Pak and Niloofar.

muhammad billy bob / July 7, 2010 7:46 PM

Rezvan does inadvertantly bring up a good point.

Democracy, from the Greeks, simply means majority rule. But what if the majority wants to kill, torture and oppress the minority? It has happened many times before in history. This is the question the Enlightened philosophers of the 16th through 18th century addressed.

The answer they came up with is rights of human beings. These rights superceed the will of the majority. Basic rights of people to not be killed by others, not have their property stolen, not have interference in their associations with others. Basically to live their life as they see fit, without interfences from others, as they do not interfere with others.

In the last 150 or so years many have tried to distort these rights of humans. Many have tried to ascribe rights to humans that enfringe on other humans rights. For example, to say that everyone has a right to education, means someone must give up their property to pay for this right. To say everyone has a right to health care means others must be forced, and force is key, to supply this health care.

Liberty of the individual is paramount to any majority rule.

muhammad billy bob / July 8, 2010 1:57 AM

'Liberty of the individual is paramount to any majority rule' - Is this not self contradictory?? In every society on earth and in every era, there are some rights that individuals have to give up for the greater good. Many smokers and alcoholics for instance consider it essential to their liberty the right to smoke and drink without any control and resist any effort to control their behaviour by either the govt through the law or society at large through social and cultural pressures. However as many countries throughout the world have realised that these liberties come with many hazards for others and at a cost to both the individuals themselves but to the society at large. Which is why smoking in public place is prohibited and there is zero tolerance to drinking in public places. Unfortunately or fortunately, we live in an interdependent world, where our individual acts can have a profound effect on the lives of others. This is why societies enact laws or social strictures to protect from those individual actions which could result in harm to others. Had US citizens taken en masse to the streets of their capital Washington, when Bush's brother rigged the election in his favour, or had Al Gore not thrown in the towel without putting in a fight, the US and the world would have been spared the disastrous war on 'terror' that Bush inflicted on the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan. Had the CIA and their Pakistani and Saudi Wahabi friends not aided, funded and powered the Taliban and the Arab mujahideen in their war against the godless Soviets or/and the US acted as a fair arbitrator in the Israeli/Palestinian dispute, 9/11 would never have happened. Individual actions can destroy the peace of the majority therefore a true democracy is where the majority is actually in control. But this is definitely not the case in the world we live in and certainly not in any of those countries that pride themselves to be 'democratic'. They are run in the words of a Wall Street commentator by 'plutocrats' - the unaccountable wealthy and powerful whose decisions can make or wreck a nation's economy and to whom most Western politicians are hostage to.

rezvan / July 8, 2010 4:29 AM

rezvan,

If one wants to kill themselves that's their business. The sheer intrusion into the lives of others to stop them, "to help" them is not justifiable. As I stated human rights can not infirnge on other's rights. If someone wants to kill themselves by smoking, that's their business, but if they are going to infringe on other's right to life, that is not ok. If a person wants to operate a business, i.e. a bar, to sell others who are perfectly willing, and understaning, that the smoking and excessive drinking will probably kill them, that's there business. Now if they were to try to drive home after consuming 12 drinks, that is endangering other's right to life.

Not wearing a hejab, or wearing one, does not violate anyones rights.

9/11 would have probably occurred even with the most minor U.S. interventions. I certainly do not agree with these interventions, mostly because it subjects U.S. citizens to infringements on it's people's rights to property. If Bush was in office or Gore, they are of the same philosophy, they both believe, like you, that it is ok to violate the rights of people's property, "for the greater good".

muhammad billy bob / July 8, 2010 7:05 PM

Leaving aside the various interpretations of Islamic law in regard to the forceful wearing of hijab in public over which there seems to be a broad range of opinions, the fact is the Iranian law in this regards was at the time and I believe still remains popular with the majority of the people. This is true of most conservative Muslim societies in even excessively secular countries like Turkey, Lebanon and Syria where there is no such law and where women as you say are free to 'choose' what they wear. What is healthy about IRI is that there is a vibrant debate about this to the extent where the President holds views contrary to that of the clerics and where the officials in charge of enacting the law are saying that they will act according to the wishes of the majority of the people in different areas. Can one be any more 'democratic' then that?

rezvan / July 8, 2010 8:57 PM

Rezvan,

Then kindly put your words to actions and relay the message. You claim, "...I believe still remains popular with the majority..." Then let’s put it to vote. You claim Iranians are for the Barbaric Republic, then put it to vote. Tell your folks in Tehran, we want ballots, not bullets.

Better yet, I have an idea for you. Why don't you take the Barbaric Republic back to Lebanon and introduce your people to this healthy form of government? And we will go back to our social freedom. If it is so good then you eat it.

Niloofar / July 8, 2010 10:58 PM

hahaha!

Bravo Niloofar - I find Rezvan's opinions nefarious and repugnant.

Agha Irani / July 9, 2010 1:26 PM

rezvan,

I thought that Islamic law came from Allah. How can there be many interpetatations of Allahs' Law? Is Allah imperfect? Did he not make his law clear enough?

Are you saying that Islamic law is just people's law? That is certainly not the position of the Iranian government. It is the offical position of the Iranian government women, not men, are commanded by Allah to cover themselves. Correct?

Now if you want to open up such interpetations of Allahs' will to humans, you are saying humans are superior to Allah.

muhammad billy bob / July 13, 2010 8:24 PM

I think no one can force the other people to wear some thing it is action of dictators

mojtaba azadi / July 13, 2010 9:17 PM

If people return the Qur'aan and Sunnah there is no room for debate. A pearl is covered up, concealed, hidden. We are not like the kufaar who are clothed yet are naked. We Muslims cover up.

faisal South Africa / July 16, 2010 8:03 PM

Faisal,

"We muslims cover up".

The men do not. Why is that?

muhammad billy bob / July 18, 2010 12:04 AM

Interesting article, indeed. I can tell that I learned a bit more about the matter reading the article.
However, I prefer to think about what Omar Khayyam loved more: Sing the wine, roses and women. The order is arbitrary, time will teach one to find the right order.

Antonio / February 3, 2011 12:23 AM