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On Faith, Hope & Survival

Nowadays a person gets lynched for being a Black or a Muslim or a homosexual or whatever, in different parts of the globe. A majority of the people get scared, after witnessing such gruesome incidents. Often, it seems that Hatred signifies Reality, and is more powerful than Survival. Maybe people cling on to survival, even if they are roughed up by a particular group or become victims of State-sponsored hatred.

On September 13, 2022, the Morality Police of the Islamic Republic of Iran, a special Police squad in charge of public implementation of Islamic Hijab regulations, took the 22-year-old Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini (July 22, 2000 – September 16, 2022, also known as Zhina Amini or Jina Amini), to a Police Station for not meeting the Government’s mandatory Hijab standards. Later on September 16, the lady passed away mysteriously in Police custody. Her unfortunate demise has triggered an Anti-Hijab Movement in Iran, and also Anti-Radical Movements in various Islamic nations, including Taliban-governed Afghanistan. This massive protest is actually a desperate attempt to being free. Those, who have taken to the streets, have placed their identity as Human Beings above all other identities. These people have refused to bow down to the State Power anymore. For nearly two months, they have been fighting only to protect their existence as Human Beings.

As far as attire and lifestyle are concerned, Reza Shah Pahlavi (March 15, 1878 – July 26, 1944), the former ruler of Iran, used to be an adherent of the Western culture. He had encouraged women to discard Hijab by issuing a decree, known as Kashf-e hijab, on January 8, 1936. During Pahlavi’s rule, the Police used to tear Hijabs off the graves of women in the streets, even if some of them wore it willingly. Since then, the Hijab issue has become controversial in Iranian Politics, as one of the enduring legacies of Reza Shah was turning dress into an integral problem of the Islamic Republic.

Another form of the same authoritarianism is now being seen in Iran. As per a survey carried out in 2018, majority of the girls in Iran are against the Hijab. However, Ayatollah Sayyid Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini (May 17, 1900 – June 3, 1989) had declared that all girls, above the age of seven, must cover their heads with a Hijab at public places. He had made an announcement in this regard soon after the Islamic Revolution in the year 1979. Three types of punishment, namely imprisonment, fine and whipping, are mentioned in Islamic Penal Code for violating this Sharia Law.

Amini’s death has shocked and rocked Iran. After the 22-year-old Iranian Kurd girl died for not wearing the Hijab in a proper manner, girls started burning their scarves at public places, and also cutting their hair. Many of the women protesters have also got the name of Mahsa Amini tattooed on their skins before staging protests. Protesters are also organising street plays as a part of the Anti-Hijab Movement. A number of Iranian men and school students have joined the protests, too.

Watch: Protests by naked women in Iran

Once, Iranian film director Abbas Kiarostami (June 22, 1940 – July 4, 2016) had said: “I think religion is very personal and the tragedy for our country is that the personal aspect has been destroyed. It would be the easiest thing in the world for me to say that I am religious, but I won’t. This most personal aspect of our lives has become the tool of the Government’s power. The value of people is equated with their religiosity.” This personal aspect of an individual has been awakened by the placards on which the Iranian girls have written: ‘Woman, Life, Freedom‘.

One of the meanings of the word religion is stated to be: To possess. In other words, the concept of religion is basically an inner feeling. No religion teaches hatred. One must contain an indomitable urge to survive in her/his inner self. It could help people get rid of all social divisions, and remain united in their fight against oppression.

Perhaps, the oppressed people across the globe shall find the road to Tehran soon.

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