Date :Sunday, April 10th, 2016 | Time : 16:21 |ID: 31878 | Print

Asserting Freedom or just disrespectful? Women tourists in Iran defy the law

SHAFAQNA – A news story broke this weekend that women tourists in Iran were defying the country’s law by removing their head scarf. A legal requirement, the Islamic Republic calls on women to cover their hair while in public.

While such a law might appear foreign and nonsensical to Westerners, Iran is a sovereign nation, and it is entitled to choose the manner in which to govern itself – those principles I would expect are rather simple to grasp. Nation-states should have the inherent and inalienable rights to legislate over their land, and over their people as they see fit, according to their traditions, beliefs and particular sensitivities.

Again, this is the very cornerstone of a democracy – Without pluralism, how we can speak of democracy? If we cannot respect other’s differences and recognize others’ rights to choose differently from us, then we are merely hypocritical ethno-centrist bigots.

While I personally believe that a woman’s wardrobe and fashion should remain a purely personal choice, we should respect the fact that Iran deemed preferable to legislate over it. Whether or not we agree with such a decision is really beside the point.

Westerners do not know best! Westerners do not have the monopoly on righteous legislating and freedom. The very fact that Westerners felt the need to “teach” Iran a lesson in freedom and democracy by promoting breaking its laws stand testimony to Western arrogance.

As a Westerner I actually feel ashamed. Breaking the law … any law is not something to brag about. It is not something we should “trend” on social media, let alone help promote or encourage.

In the light of the furious debate Western politicians and officials have carried over the Muslim headscarf, and how Muslim women should be MADE to take it off as not to upset Western morality, I would kindly invite everyone to take a page of their own book.

Who are you to weigh in on Iranian law? Who are you to weigh in on a matter which does not concern you in the slightest? Such a display of ethno-centrism is truly sickening, and a little bit chauvinistic.

Do women really need saving from a piece of clothing? Don’t we have enough crises in the world that we have to pick that particular subject matter and turn it into a crusade?

Please ….

Courtesy of Facebook campaigners are calling on female tourists visiting the country to post pictures of themselves removing their headscarf.

I would say this: If it bothers you that much then don’t travel to Iran.

The campaign is the work of My Stealthy Freedom, an online movement which is no stranger to this particular act of defiance. According to the BBC this campaign came in response to the plight of a group of female crew members at a French airline.

When it was announced that Air France would begin flying into Tehran after an eight-year hiatus, a number of the female crew demanded the right to opt-out of working on the new route. Why? Well many objected to an internal memo asking them to wear a hijab when disembarking the plane in the Iranian capital.

The crew members have now won the battle. On Monday Air France announced it would allow its female staff to be reassigned to other flights, should they not wish to fly to Iran.

Coming from France we should not be surprised. It’s the hypocrisy that gets me though … that and a misplaced sense of colonial superiority. While all should bow to Western law, Westerners cannot stomach other nation’s legislation? And that’s something to be proud about?

That’s something we should all support? WHY?!

If Air France flight attendants feel so strongly about wearing a head scarf then by all means stay away, but don’t impose your psychosis on other people, and do not try to rebrand racism into a form of feminism.

I don’t recall Iranian women calling on France to save them from their garments.

But here is where I get downright angry.

Along with their pictures the women sent in messages of support for women in Iran. “Your government tries to keep you little in the name of God! They try to keep you silent, but you have so much to say!” wrote one. “It’s a pity that not only these amazing people, but also tourists like me are having the mandatory hijab imposed. I am annoyed that I can’t express myself truly,” said another

Another woman posted a picture of herself with the caption: “‪Iran is beautiful and Iranian people are wonderful. Great hospitality and a strong desire for freedom and peace. Wearing the compulsory hijab gave me a terrible feeling of slavery. I didn’t feel free to be what I am, which is horrible. For me, it was only 22 days of my life. For you, you always have to wear it!”


Can someone please explain how covering one’s hair belittles women in the eyes of God when He commanded women to follow in such fashion? Or is it that the West now speaks for and instead of God.

And that word: freedom. Freedom indeed if your definition of it is tied up to the amount of clothing on your back … or lack of really. Because let’s be honest, it is not the headscarf which bothers anyone, but rather the idea that women could choose modesty over hyper-sexuality.

Your so-called freedom actually is the objectification of women. Is a woman worth determined by her clothing? Because such is your underlying message … even of you cannot appreciate it yourself.

What Islam offers is true spiritual emancipation.

So spare us your help, no one asked for it. More importantly Iran did not ask for it.

By Catherine Shakdam for Shafaqna


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