Iran protest: Hide women’s rights in Islam? This is anti-Muslim


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Dhe Islamic Republic of Iran has been fighting women for 44 years. This fight is an essential basis of the Islamic theocracy. The mullahs control women’s lives and sexuality to maintain male rule.

It’s a system of Gender apartheid: Women are excluded in many areas of education, justice and culture and are massively disadvantaged in marriage, divorce, custody, witness and inheritance law. They are forced under the headscarf and punished with whippings and imprisonment if they resist.

The fight for women’s rights in Iran can end fatally, as the government’s crackdown on demonstrations shows again and again. Despite this, the feminist protests that have been going on for months have not abated. It is gratifying that the protests by Iranian women, which have flared up again and again for decades, are now increasingly being supported by men. And that he’s finally getting the attention he deserves in the West.

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The Greens MEP Hannah Neumann supports the protest movement, but is obviously skeptical about solidarity in the West. The Iranian women’s fight for freedom is “often misused to stir up anti-Muslim and anti-feminist resentment,” she warns in one WELT guest post. Anyone who only discovers their passion for equal rights when it comes to the headscarf is “simply living out their Islamophobia – and yes, their patriarchal fantasies too,” says Neumann. “A world view is being jerked into place in which evil Muslim men oppress powerless women who the white man then has to free.”

The term is particularly striking here “Islamophobia”. This is a combat term intended to ward off any criticism of oppressive conditions based on Islam. All negative statements about Islam are thus interpreted as hatred of Muslim socialized people – regardless of whether it is actual resentment or criticism of ideology and religion based on enlightenment and human rights.

The term is also often used by Islamists. After the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the Iranian mullahs used the term to defame women who opposed the veil.

Guest contribution by Hannah Neumann

MEP Hannah Neumann (Greens) chairs the delegation for relations with the Arabian Peninsula

Let’s put this discussion of terms aside. Of course there are specific ones anti-Muslim resentment, which also require a corresponding criticism. There is also the phenomenon that some suddenly become interested in women’s rights and only when it comes to Islam. Anyone who otherwise makes fun of equality all year round is certainly not a serious campaigner.

First of all, there is a key difference between living in a civil society with individual freedoms and living in a theocracy like Iran, where conservative, orthodox everyday Islam often determines life down to the most intimate areas and people are directly influenced by religiously based morality and rule are subject to.

Second, Neumann ignores the fact that the opposite phenomenon is also widespread. Those who suddenly hide their passion for equality when it comes to Islam and Islamism are also worthy of criticism. Who – rightly – continue to scandalize existing sexism, misogyny and domestic violence in the West, but on the compulsory headscarf and gender segregation in Iran, the ban on girls going to school in Afghanistan, the madness about virgins in many conservative Muslim families or forced marriages, Killing in the Name of “Honour” and genital mutilation in Germany suddenly no longer have a say.

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This is precisely what is anti-Muslim and anti-feminist, because girls and women who are affected by such violence, which is often based on Islam, are let down by this silence.

Neumann succinctly points out that “some Islamic families put pressure on women to wear the headscarf”. Otherwise, the oppression of women in Islam only occurs in a “adjusted world view” and is therefore hardly a widespread phenomenon. In doing so, she ultimately downplays or even apologies for these conditions. So it is of course correct that many women wear the headscarf voluntarily and that any violence against women wearing the headscarf must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. However, this realization should not go hand in hand with denying the patriarchal content of the veil.

Green MP Neumann, however, defends EU funding for a campaign that includes the slogan “Beauty is in diversity as freedom is in hijab” (roughly: “Beauty lies in diversity, like freedom in hijab”). The campaign aimed to criticize discrimination, a worthy aim.

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Nevertheless, one should not simply overlook the fact that such strictly tied headscarves, as shown in the campaign, are often legitimized as deeply misogynistic. It is true that women give completely different reasons for wearing their headscarves. But when the female body is declared a sin, that has nothing to do with freedom.

The Iranian women who took to the streets en masse on March 8, 1979 to demonstrate against the then threatening compulsory headscarf had one slogan: “Freedom is neither Eastern nor Western, but universal!”. It was their answer to the slogan of the revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini – “Neither East nor West – Islamic Republic!”.

The most important works of Western cultural relativism had not yet been written at that time. And yet the women’s slogan can also be understood as a judgment on this cultural relativism. This judgment still applies today. The daughters and granddaughters of the 1979 demonstrators no longer want to be ignored by feminists in the West and their comrades-in-arms, they want to be supported.

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Sepideh Gholian performing at the theater before her arrest

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