Iran's 'hijab rebellion': A critical analysis

Iran’s ‘hijab rebellion’: A critical analysis

Foreign Affairs

Before Iran’s “hijab rebellion” captured global media headlines, Chinese President Xi Jinping asked the world’s anti-US powers to beware of a ‘colour revolution’ Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in mid-September. The SCO is the world’s largest international organisation outside the United Nations—its member countries are home to 40% of the world’s population and contribute 30% of the world’s GDP—which the US and Western powers do not control.

Iran’s inclusion in the 2022 SCO held in the former Soviet Republic of Uzbekistan’s Samarkand city appears as a significant challenge to the US and its allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia. So, seeing Iran becoming a full member, Saudi Arabia joined SCO as an observer state.

Currently, it is natural to ask some questions about the ‘hijab rebellion’ in Iran. Why did this movement begin? What is the demand of this movement, and how should this movement be seen in today’s situation? Should Iran’s ‘hijab rebellion’ be viewed through an American and western lens, or should the ‘movement’ be analysed objectively based on facts to see its roots?

The western propaganda that the Iranian government has killed a woman for not wearing a hijab, along with the scenes of anti-hijab movements by women everywhere, is to align the world’s so-called ‘feminist’ forces with the massive riots that have started against the Iranian government. Xi’s warning seems appropriate in this situation.

What happened in Iran?

Mahasha Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish girl from Iran, was arrested on September 13th by the “Morality Police” for not covering her head properly with a hijab. Amini’s family alleges that the police brutally tortured the young woman in their vehicle, because of which she suffered severe injuries and went into a coma. Amini reportedly succumbed to her injuries on September 16th.

As soon as the news of Amini’s death spread, women in Iran’s Saghez started protesting by taking off their hijabs. Soon the protest spread across the country against the Khomeini regime. Since the “Islamic Revolution” of 1979, women in Iran have been forced to wear the Islamic headscarf, called hijab, in public. Iran’s law also provides for legal punishment for women if they do not comply.

As incidents of women’s protests in Iran continue to rise, the government expresses concern. Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi ordered the Interior Ministry and the country’s prosecutor to investigate Amini’s death. The accused police personnel have been suspended, and an investigation has been initiated against them.

On the other hand, the police said that Amini was not tortured. Instead, when she was arrested and taken to the police station for “moral education”, she panicked and suffered a heart attack. She was rushed to the Kasra Hospital, where she was admitted to the intensive care unit. She later died in the same hospital.

Neither assurances of government investigations nor police statements quelled the agitation. On the one hand, as the anti-hijab movement of women — especially middle- and upper-class women — intensified and defied the regressive Islamic law, on other hand, riots broke out in various places in the name of anti-government demonstrations.

Mosques were set on fire; the Islamic holy book Koran was burned, and people were stabbed. Security forces also came under attack from veiled men who protested along with the women. As a result, many people were injured in the conflict between the protestors and the police.

Later, Shiite fanatics, and supporters of the Khomeini regime, also took out rallies after the Friday prayer on September 23rd, and a riot took place in different parts of Iran. This has destabilised the Persian country and seriously affected its law-and-order situation.

International response to the hijab rebellion

Iran’s ‘hijab rebellion’ suddenly became a hot topic for the western governments and their mainstream media. Tired of predicting Russia’s “imminent defeat” in the war in Ukraine for seven long months, the western press has plunged into the murky water. They have focused on Iran’s “hijab rebellion” to set a new pro-western narrative. Western powers like the European Union (EU), the United States of America and Britain have also jumped on Iran’s ‘hijab rebellion’ bandwagon.

EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell strongly condemned Iran in a statement. He opposed the Iranian government’s internet censorship and a crackdown on protesters. US President Joe Biden condemned Iran. He said that his government is standing by the protesting women of Iran, showing solidarity with the citizens’ movement and standing by them.

Without referring to the inhumane sanctions imposed by the United States on Iran, which have resulted in a severe blow to Iran’s trade with the outside world, the Biden administration said that US information technology companies are being exempted from the sanctions to help them provide internet services to the people of Iran so that the latter can bypass the Iranian government’s censorships.

British Foreign Secretary Lord Tariq Ahmed condemned Iran’s regime and called for an end to the crackdown on the movement. He demanded an impartial investigation into Amini’s death by the Iranian government. France also condemned the incident in Iran and demanded a proper investigation into Amini’s death.

French President Emmanuel Macron said he spoke with Iranian President Raisi about the women’s movement and protested government repression. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Germany urges Iran not to resort to violence to allow protesters to protest peacefully.

Italy’s recently victorious fascist leader Giorgia Meloni expressed regret for the incident in Iran and said that she stands for the women fighting for their freedom and rights in Iran and everywhere in the world.

When the demon turned godly

Although the spontaneous protests surrounding Amini’s alleged death by police brutality began among middle-class and upper-class women, the sudden violent nature of their movement has raised doubts among many about Iran’s Islamic regime at the international level.

This happened just as Iran was made a full member of the SCO with the cooperation of Russia and China, and Chinese President Xi warned member countries about the ‘colour revolutions’, which have been essentially organised by the US spy agency CIA to overthrow governments that Washington DC considers its foes.

The countries in a frenzy about Iran do not talk about the dictatorship of the Wahhabi monarchy in Saudi Arabia and the strict religious restrictions on women in that country. None of these western countries’ governments protests Zionist Israel’s regular state killings of Palestinian women and children.

Although Shiite clerical rule prevails in Iran and Islamic fundamentalism is imbibed in the state machinery, Iran is still a republic where elections are held at regular intervals. The government is formed through universal suffrage. In a US-backed absolute monarchy like Saudi Arabia, let alone elections, ordinary people have no right to participate in politics because they can be beheaded for doing so.

As women in Iran have equal rights to education, voting and employment, many women from this country can go abroad yearly to study or research. Iranian women have significantly contributed to different fields, including science, medicine, art and cinema. Above all, their movement and political activities have earned them the right to protest within the country and have a political voice.

However, under the Saud dynasty’s sclerotic regime, women are not allowed to go out without a male guardian. Not only do they have to wear a hijab, but they must also wear an abaya (veil) and cover their faces when outside. After much struggle, Saudi women have been given only conditional permission to drive.

The anti-hijab or burqa movement on the streets will not be seen in Saudi Arabia because women there do not have the same political consciousness that Persian women have fought for due to Iran’s peculiar conditions. Instead, Saudi Arabia’s brutal law provides for public beheading for protesting or showing anger against the state.

Thus, all the western governments that have been silent about women’s freedom in Saudi Arabia suddenly became vocal about Iranian women’s rights. France, where women have been forced to remove the hijab to wear state-preferred clothing, and the United States, where police brutally murder black people on the streets, have been suddenly vocal about women’s rights in Asia.

The fact that all these countries are vociferously defending women’s rights in Iran while remaining indifferent to the persecution of women in Saudi Arabia and Zionist Israel-occupied Palestinian territories proves that the demons have turned godly for an evil reason.

The US-Israeli-Saudi cycle

The US administration and its allies in the West joined the process by imposing inhumane sanctions on Iran for many years, accusing Tehran of enriching uranium to build nuclear weapons. However, Iran has denied any wrongdoings and has clarified that it only aims to use nuclear energy for peaceful, civilian purposes, especially to generate electricity.

In 2015, Iran was on the way to signing a deal with former US President Barack Obama’s administration, which helped ease some sanctions. Still, under pressure from Zionist Israel and Wahhabi Saudi Arabia, former US President Donald Trump’s administration reimposed stricter sanctions on Iran. Washington DC pressurised its allies, including India, to stop importing cheaper oil from Iran.

Iran’s accession to the SCO will open the way for its trade with the member countries by lampooning the US sanctions, as well as help in its significant economic development through the Chabahar port built with Indian support and the Belt-Road Initiative of China.

At this time, especially when Iran has increased its influence in the Middle East by playing a significant role in the Syrian war, in the liberation struggle of Palestine and in the civil war against the Saudi Arabian puppet government in Yemen, the chaos inside the country will only profit Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Israel’s espionage agency Mossad’s chief, David Barnea, visited the US in August to demand that the Biden administration not make a deal on Iran’s nuclear energy. He said, “Israel won’t stand by idly” regarding Iran and accused Iran of fooling the world.

While the occupying Zionist regime has been indiscriminately killing Palestinian civilians, mocking all international laws, it now opposes Iran’s government for cracking a whip on rioting. Tel Aviv’s role in Iran’s current crisis cannot be undermined, especially when Mossad claimed responsibility for killing a famous Iranian nuclear researcher inside Iran in 2021.

This story not only proves the involvement of Mossad, CIA and Saudi spy agencies behind the ‘hijab revolt’ in Iran but also shows that these countries’ uproar over Iran has nothing to do with the demand for women’s freedom but rather the anti-government anger of a class of Iranian women. They want to force Tehran to bow to the West using this ‘hijab rebellion’ as their weapon.

Complaints of foreign involvement

The Iranian government has alleged that although the women’s movement was spontaneous, it saw the hand of foreign powers in subsequent incidents such as the burning of mosques and the burning of the Koran. Iran International, a London-based TV channel that regularly broadcasts various statements about the movement, is allegedly funded by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Similarly, the Iranian government suspects the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK) —a CIA-financed terrorist organisation expelled from Iran—of fuelling tensions. Although this organisation had earlier influence in Iran and Iraq, they have lost ground and were banished. The members have found refuge in the US, the UK and other western countries.

The Iranian government summoned the ambassadors of Britain and Norway to protest the anti-Iran propaganda carried out by their countries. Iran lodged its protest with Britain’s ambassador to Iran, Simon Shercliff, regarding the incessant falsehoods spread against Iran by Persian channels from his country. Despite this, neither Britain nor any western power has made any effort to stop the spread of fake news and terrorist attacks on Iran.

What will happen in the end?

If the western countries that shed tears on Iran had made similar efforts to lift the sanctions on Iran, they could have protected the rights of Iranian women better. Iran’s women and children suffer the most due to the sanctions’ impact on healthcare and education.

Had there been a fuss about this ‘hijab rebellion’ if the western powers were not under compulsion to prevent Iran from becoming a member of the SCO, trading and entering strong military pacts with Russia and China?

If they had a chance, would these western countries and their mainstream media oppose the Hindutva fascism-driven government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which has been stopping Muslim girls from wearing hijab, and against the Saudi monarchy, which forces women to wear veils?

The ‘hijab rebellion’ in Iran is nothing but a symptom of a CIA-Mossad conspiracy to uproot a country’s sovereignty, overthrow an elected government through chaos and terror and install a puppet regime. No liberation from social bonds and exploitation is possible except for Iran’s working-class women’s political and economic liberation. However, in this situation, women of the working and peasant classes remain in oblivion, while the middle-class and elite women are setting the narratives, which rings an eerie alarm for all.

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An avid reader and a merciless political analyst. When not writing then either reading something, debating something or sipping espresso with a dash of cream. Street photographer. Tweets as @la_muckraker

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