Hijab & Politics, Supreme leader’s confession of weakness

Hossein Taheri
Mar 18, 2018 · 13 min read

Iranian version of Woman’s Day is based on lunar calendar which by a very rare coincidence was 8 March this year. After new protests in recent months, and raising demands for change in laws in the only country which putting on a veil is mandatory for women, The Iranian woman’s day, was a special day for the hardliners. I want to take you inside the head of Mullahs, so I translated full speech of Iranian supreme leader Khamenei in woman’s day, which hasn’t been translated even by his own official web site. You can skip the italic part and continue the article if you feel uncomfortable with dogmatic statements.

Woman contesting mandatory Hijab in central Tehran

After congratulating birth of Prophet’s daughter and woman’s day, he stated: “Islamic logic has a complete framework for women; Muslim woman, is a being with a faith, modesty, scientific and spiritual sage, influential in society, manager of family, a reason for men’s peace and beside that have the feminine characters’ like elegance and the heart to receive divine enlightenment.

In opposition to that, there is another standard for women, in which today that is western woman lifestyle; which the significant point of that is she is free to attract men and be in exposition of their desires. So its property is nakedness (may be partial nakedness is a better translation); that’s why you see, even in official meetings, western men should be completely suited up, while women should be toward nakedness as much as they can. This situation is about to recent times of the west; it wasn’t the case in previous times. Western woman is object of consumption, make up and sexual trill of males. The rest of what they say about gender equality, etc. are just words, behind of it is that I’ve just mentioned.

You’ve heard that enormous number of notable western women have just noted one after another that they have been misused with violence in the process of their work success.

Islam has been closed the doors which lead women to be misused like that. Islam not permitted that with Hijab. Hijab is not a limitation to the woman, it is a protection of the woman.

Today, the flag of our independence from western culture is Iranian woman. Iranian ladies, today, are announcing and exporting their cultural independence to the world. They can do and are doing their influence in country’s advancements in all types of works while preventing such (western problems) with Hijab. And at the same time they are doing their Islamic duties in their family, being a mother, wife like Quran has said “Bringing peace to their husbands”. That is what should be promoted in woman’s day, and we suggest our respectful women to keep these Islamic values and spread it. And avoid the wrong habits like getting involved consuming competition and becoming like perverted western woman.

These characters have enemies. I have to tell you the big part of their plan is toward these values. Our enemies, are preparing conspiracy against us in a non-stop manner. This is what make us proud as well, it is about 40 years that they are plotting against us, spent billions of dollars, put their brains together to topple us, which is not the case for any other country, while our divine tree is growing non-stop.

They have thinking room and plans for what to do in December, what to do in January, February, Mars, and say by the end of the year, Islamic Republic would be vanished! Camel sees cottonseed in his dreams… (Iranian proverb which means what a sweet dream, that never comes to reality)

[AUDIENCE LAUGHING]

Have you seen how the people of Iran responded in January, or how did respond in February?

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iranian supreme leader

Now they are all ready to respond to any violator to put them back to whether they belong to.

[AUDIENCE CHANTING HEY OUR LIBERAL LEADER, WE ARE READY, WE ARE READY!]

Our strength is relying on people, it is relying on faith, the energy of youths, relying on the righteous path that Imam Khomeini has drawn for us; so what others want to say, let them say, we know, and they know they can’t do anything about it!

They spend so much money, employ hundreds of media from all types, focus on this important point, independence of Muslim woman, they really work to death, saying hundreds of times in websites, radios, televisions, journals, so they make Iranian girls to take off they headscarves. There is too much money, too many thoughts, too many efforts, into this, which may result to some little girls get fooled to take off their Hijab in some corners. Some of them might also be paid, I can’t say it precisely. But all those efforts, may have such trivial outcome.

Up until here, there is no problem; what makes me sensitive is that some notable people here are stating some notes about mandatory Hijab. I would say, without intention, some figures continue the same path of enemy, which they couldn’t achieve any goals after all this spending and efforts. Inside of them are some journalists, proclaiming intellectuals, even mullahs, which saying that Imam (Khomeini) that said women should wear Hijab, didn’t mean all women. Such a wrong interpretation! We were there beside Imam, and we know very well, that he stood like a mountain against the ignorant path of Pahlavi and their followers.

At the same time, there was a debate on alcoholic beverages, we were in revolution council, there were some members on those committees which were saying alcoholic beverage business is beneficent for country; Imam stood against sin. Now some people are saying the sin for Hijab is less than sin of talking behind someone’s back. Why you prevent this, and not preventing that! That’s why I suffer, when they don’t recognize the problem. We didn’t say that if a person inside his own property broke Islamic rules, we would prosecute him… this is between them and their God, but what is happening in the streets, in public, is an act of public, is an act of teaching the public. This would oblige a duty to the government which is based on Islam. It’s not the question of small sin or big sin. What is Islamic sin, should not be performed in the public.

This logic that let the people choose themselves also is about selling alcoholic beverages! Let’s pick up those restrictions as well! Is this what you are saying?! This is also true about all public sins! Divine religion is obliged us to stand against public sins.

We are proud of our Hijab. Our woman made us proud with their Iranian veils, they achieved the highest scientific levels, the highest artistic and cultural levels, became notable, became influential in social events; and at the same time they raised their kids and been housewives as well. If we look forward to changing the rules in order to achieve desires of western cultures, is a big mistake. And some does that!

I’ve mentioned the problem of aging and the need for supporting population increase. The authorities have claimed their support, but I see they don’t act accordingly. This is what western countries want, they don’t want population increase in Islamic nations. We should not act so they achieve their goals. We should act in direction of Islamic goals, not them.

Our culture is divine culture, this culture, not just provide us independence, but also provides us freedom.

Those who on the name of freedom, promote ignorance [against divine rules], they are not free, they are captives of deviated western culture. This is western culture that moves them. How it is freedom? Freedom is that you can have your own intentions, your own faiths, your own Quran, and Islam patterns and be able to follow that. This is freedom, this is pride, this is liberty.

Authorities are responsible to prevent all what is deviation from our Islamic culture. What they are saying about gender equality are just words, and some people are copying what they say in here. Today, based on statistics, most crimes against women are happening in west, in America and Europe. Much more than other countries, while apparently women are liberal out there. Most violence inside the house, against woman is also happening there. Based on existing statistics. These are just the cases of the woman who dared to file their case. What gender equality? There is no gender equality! This is just a name so they can do their intentions.

In Islam, gender equality means that woman should be respected. Men, do not give themselves right based on their physical strength, to be violent against women. This is Islamic gender equality. We need to make rules for that reasons. Recently, there is a discussion on a bill, for family affairs and preventing violence against women, the authorities should be careful not to implement western measures in here. For example, they might say if father meddled in daughter’s marriage, this is violence. No! What is violence and what is not, should not be reflected from west, but from our own logic and thoughts.

Today we are facing such naughty hostility, so we should be careful.

While most people are fed up with these ordinary religious preaches in Iran, but as a discourse of most influential man in middle east, it was very important for future of defying compulsory Hijab in Iran. As you may know, Ayatollah Khamenei have final say in Iran; up until he has not declared his opinion on a subject, authorities meaning government, parliament, judiciary and other forces are free to act as they will, but when final word comes out of his speech, no one would dare to defy it publicly in Iran, as it is banned by unwritten law.

This discourse was a green light to law enforcement to not take it easy for girls whom want to defy Hijab anymore, and also it is expected that officials or inside medias, stop their support in favor of optional Hijab. Yes, Iran’s system is a religious type of dictatorship if you had any doubt before, even if they have a great support from the people. It was predictable from the beginning that defying hijab, will be responded, and in a majority Shia country, winner was ascertained.

Even the elected ones by people have to follow Khamenei’s opinions

Considering that Hijab is not compulsory in the other Islamic countries, which are even more fundamentalist than Iran, it should raise a question why this is not a sensitive subject in other Islamic countries? The answer would show regime’s weakness in understanding basic concepts of freedom in Islam.

Even if we were Muslim hardliners who wanted to implement Quran, we could not accept what he is saying. The Quran verse about Hijab asked prophet to “tell faithful woman to put their scarves, because it is closer for them to be recognized (for their faith) so not to get harm” [33:39]. So, here are direct conclusions for a literal Muslim: 1. Hijab is suggested to distinct faithful women. 2. The ultimate goal of Hijab is to prevent harm for women. So any interpretation in favor of compulsory hijab, would be contrary to this verse.

If we force hijab to all woman, how the goal of recognizing virtuous woman -as Quran suggested- can be achieved? On the other hand, Islamic Republic harms woman in order to wear hijab! As some imprisoned woman told foreign news agencies, they have been even beaten, during their imprisonment process. This is clearly in the contrary of philosophy of hijab in Quran. These are the questions which Khamenei and his followers should answer to.

Moreover, the verse seems more like a recommendation. That’s why some moderate Shia clerics published a Fatwa that if a Muslim woman in non-Islamic countries, have fear of abuse because of Hijab, they can take off their scarves. If you are a liberal Muslim and want to be more open-minded about Quran, you can use other verses like there is no obligation to the religion [2:256] and even the one that said this book, is to alert people of Mecca and around it [6:92].

So it is clear that Khamenei’s rigidness about Hijab, has nothing to do with Islam. He is afraid that if he looses a point here to moderate movements, he has to continue the losing path on other subject as well, until a complete defeat in power and popularity. So he has to make up some Islamic excuses to attract adherents and scare them that they will loose their values to western values if we allow the society to become open. He might also be worried because liberty can contest hardliners popularity in the streets.

Iranian stylish women have adapted themselves with these limits anyway

Actually, there is no direct law in Iran which forces women to wear Hijab, but they make this enforcement, by using other law that says the Islamic values should be held in public, which is very difficult to interpret. There are more than hundreds of branches in Islam, some in very opposite directions, some even call others infidels. Islamic Republic of Iran only accepts one branch in their system. While they are known as Shias, but in fact there are more than 60 branches in Shia. They mentioned Twelver’s branch (the most popular branch in Iran) in constitution. But later in constitution, they make it more specific, by giving authority to believers of “Velayat Faghih” (Authority of Ayatollahs); the branch that Khomeini has established. Traditional Twelver’s branch, have been trusted by people for about 1100 years by getting distance from politics. But Khomeinism gave full authority over people to Ayatollahs. So there are two types of Ayatollahs; pro-government which are widely funded and supported and have universities and medias and the traditional ones which are boycotted and have no media to talk to people. Ayatollah Hossein Shirazi is just one example that have been arrested in recent weeks.

Except for religious opposition communities, all other opposition groups are living outside Iran. Iranian government is happy that protesters, activists, journalists and critics are leaving the country. Even an Iranian actress Mitra Hajjar, recently in popular Iranian TV show have suggested we should pay loan to unhappy people, to leave the country. Every time any protest or movement happens in Iran, we see increasing number of Iranian asylum seekers in western world, which makes wish of hardliners true: a more uniform society.

Khamenei is right, thinking heads of oppositions are living in US, which they plan for protests in Iran, they promoted for “White Wednesdays” which encouraged putting scarves on the sticks. And he is also right about American budget for regime change in Iran. But their achievements are just a little, as Khamenei mentioned. Why? Because Iran is predominantly a Shia country; fighting against Islam, gives them more reason to be united. What is scary for Khamenei, is not those budgets and efforts, it is the opposing Islamic thoughts that might get them lonelier in this tense atmosphere. Opposition groups strategy is a direct cold war against Islam; which make Islamic Republic stronger. These opposition leaders have lived more than 40 years in United States, and have become totally Americans, they don’t look alike the ordinary people of Iran anymore.

Change of traditions in Iran is slower than other countries

I didn’t translate the rest of his speech. He was also talking to community of Maddahs and consulted them to promote hardliners opinions to the public. Maddahs are traditional singers, which their specific job, is to praise sacred Shia values in society. They have a deep relation with ordinary people and youths. Let me remind you the second biggest ceremony of our planet, which is Ashura [after Hindu gathering which takes places every 12 years]. People make various tents in each and every street in Iran in this ceremony which provides Shia specific ceremony for 10 days. No one needs to cook any food during these ceremonies, because people are making cuisines in these tents together and offering it free to public. They mourn together, chant and marsh in the streets and commemorate death of their third Imam. And Ashura is just an example that keeps their communities strong. Maddahs play a critical role in Shia ceremonies. And Khamenei is their biggest investor right now.

I am pretty sure, Pahlavi family (as proclaiming oppositions leader) have got too far away from Iranian traditions and values. So I have no hope in opposition parties. Some of these oppositions are now demanding United States to trigger a war or bombardment of Iran, because they can’t get into power that easy. I would definitely oppose any violence or increasing tension in Iran. But, I also think Islamic Republic is so weak, if we bring opinions of moderate clerics which believe in Secularism into attention. Those who do not have any media right now.

Sooner or later we all come to believe that renaissance will not happen in middle east the way it happened in west. Islamic societies have different contexture than Christian societies. Take Turkey as an example. Even after about 70 years of forced liberal powers which banned Hijab in universities and government, now Islamists have the power. When international forces liberated Afghanistan and Iraq, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and Islamic Republic of Iraq have been created. Who won the election after Mubarak and Gaddafi? The rest of Islamic world is the same and Iran is not an exception, when Shah of Iran tried to quickly apply western values in Iranian society, he got kicked out and Khomeini established his regime based of 98.2 percent of votes.

So if you support the budget to fuel the anti-Islam bulldozers in Iran, please consider that you are just helping hardliners. Modern and liberal Islamic world would look like different than Europe and United State or Far East. Secular and liberal believers in Islam, have been in this battle for long time and they have to fight in two fronts. Islamic hardliners and Islamophobists!

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