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Friday, September 30, 2022 

Westerners cannot continue to allow Iran or any other Muslim countries to use hijab for oppression

A writer named Ben Cohen makes a case regarding the wrongness of Iran's forcing women to wear hijabs, although he unfortunately also puts in some very questionable claims along the way. The topic stems from the latest protests in Iran, following the murder of a woman who wasn't wearing a hijab:
The immediate trigger for these latest demonstrations was the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini, 22. Amini was arrested in Tehran by the regime's so-called "Morality Police" – uniformed thugs whose job would correctly be understood as engaging in sexual harassment in a western context – for the crime of wearing her hijab, or headscarf, improperly.

Since the major wave of anti-regime protests in 2009, many Iranian women have consciously pushed the envelope on the Islamic Republic's austere, misogynistic dress code, adjusting their hijabs to show strands of hair or applying light makeup to their faces. Since Amini allegedly did something along these lines with her head covering, she was savagely beaten while in police custody, losing consciousness and dying of her injuries on Sept. 16, having spent three days in a coma.

The regime's official explanation is that Amini – by all accounts, a healthy young woman with no pre-existing respiratory or cardiac conditions – died of a heart attack after "suddenly" developing a problem. Few people are buying that, of course, least of all Amini's family. In a heartbreaking interview with the BBC's Persian language service, Amini's grieving father, Amjad, accused the regime of "telling lies," adding, "No matter how much I begged, they wouldn't let me see my daughter."

When Amjad Amini was finally allowed to see Mahsa's lifeless body, it had been covered entirely from neck to toe, although he noticed the bruising on her feet. "I have no idea what they did to her," he wept, with the unique agony of a bereaved parent.
Obviously, the poor woman's murder was concealed as much as possible by the vile mutawas. And then, we get to the part about what's wrong with how the west approaches all this:
So far, hundreds of protestors have been wounded and several killed during the demonstrations that erupted in the wake of Amini's death, but as in the past, the regime's methodical violence against its own citizens hasn't yet quelled their spirit. While the regime's President Ebrahim Raisi – known as the "Butcher of Tehran" for his service to the regime's terrifying post-revolutionary "Death Committees" – was attending the UN General Assembly meeting in New York, during which time he denied the Holocaust in an interview with "60 Minutes" and petulantly canceled an interview with CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour because of her refusal to wear a headscarf, back home protestors were chanting "Death to Raisi" and wishing the same fate on other regime figureheads, such as Mojtaba Khamenei, the son of the ailing Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his potential successor.

The willingness of the Iranian people to confront the regime has been on display time and again during the last 13 years. Sadly, Western publics, who should really be inspired by such scenes, have tended to look the other way, while our governments have been dutiful about expressing verbal solidarity without doing anything meaningful to help dislodge the ruling mullahs.

There are many reasons for this. On the Left, there is a strong sense of colonial guilt, emanating from the 1953 CIA-backed coup against the nationalist prime minister Mohammed Mossadegh, that leaves Western liberals nervous about criticizing domestic repression, even when the victim is a young woman. On both Left and Right, in recent years there has been a greater acceptance of cultural relativism, with both "woke" and conservative rationalizations readily available, alongside a broader disillusionment with the idea that liberal democracy should be a universal system.
Oh yes, it's offensive when allegedly good people do nothing, which enables bad things to happen. But now, here's that part where he undermines his arguments more, when he says:
The hijab, in particular, has proved perplexing. In America and Europe, where Muslim communities often face racism and discrimination, the hijab has virtually become a civil rights symbol, because many Muslim women freely and proudly wear one despite countless cases of physical assaults upon those who do. But in the hands of the Iranian regime, the hijab is a symbol of repression, something imposed on all women regardless of whether they are Muslims or whether they come from the Zoroastrian, Christian, Jewish, Baha'i or other religious minorities.
I'm afraid this dampens the impact of the op-ed. It obscures how there's women in the west who've experienced violence by Muslims, supposedly for not wearing hijabs, though even if they did, it's a forgone conclusion they'd still face horrific assaults. And to act as though it's perfectly normal for a woman to wear a head covering like that, which obscures much of her identity, is offensive. This is exactly why I cannot accept the Christian concept of a Catholic nun wearing a wimple outfit: it denies her an identity, and makes her out to be a sexual being in every way that has to suppress her God-given physique. I also cannot accept the Haredi/ultra-Orthodox way of dress, as that too is more or less the same problem.

This also ignores that even in the west, there's Muslim families who force their daughters to wear such a reprehensible outfit, and Muslim women who've paid a price for not wearing it. Not to mention that, in countries like Saudi Arabia, there have been terrible incidents where Muslim women were raped and the victims punished, while their rapists got off with nary a slap on the wrist. That Cohen would obscure such issues does a terrible disfavor to women everywhere. And for that, seriously, I think he owes an apology for acting as though nothing's wrong with dressing in such a way, religiously or otherwise, or pretending that in the west, this isn't an issue.
If we accept the principle that it is for Muslim women themselves, and not the state authorities, to decide whether or not they cover their heads, then we cannot fail to be moved by the protests in Iran – and particularly the spectacle of women of all ages tearing off their hijabs and waving them defiantly at armed security forces.

The US government has expressed its support for the protests, although President Joe Biden's address to the UN General Assembly was disappointingly thin on Iran, saluting the "brave women" who had taken to the streets, but saying no more. Last Thursday, the US announced sanctions on the Morality Police, citing the killing of Amini, as well as sanctions targeting specific officials who "oversee organizations that routinely employ violence to suppress peaceful protesters and members of Iranian civil society, political dissidents, women's rights activists, and members of the Iranian Baha'i community," according to a Treasury Department statement.
Well, what can one expect from such a leftist-influenced "administration"? Biden's already proven useless when he and his "administration" allowed the Taliban to overtake Afghanistan again, in the most catastrophic ways possible. And the UN's no improvement. But if Cohen really wants to prove he's a realist, then he won't obscure how even in the west, hijabs can be a very bad influence along with Islamofascism itself, and again, he should apologize for acting as though Muslims in the west can't possibly be sexist/racist/antisemitic themselves, and also for obscuring the danger of jihadism in the west to boot. All that does is water down the seriousness of the issue, and then, we get nowhere as a result.

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