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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

"Stories of Stealthy Freedom."

"If the meat was covered, then the cats wouldn't roam around it!"
 Taj El-Din Hilaly (Muslim Cleric)

"I cannot accept that my hair can make men sin and lose their faith
 unless they have a sick heart.......
  (Iranian stealthy freedom woman)

March 7, 1979: The new leader of Iran, the Ayatollah Khomeini decrees that it is mandatory for the woman to wear the hijab. (veil)
One day later on International Women's day, thousands of Iranian women take to the streets of Tehran launching a massive protest against the wearing of the hijab!
Now exactly 35 years later, a new silent protest has begun called ,"My Stealthy freedom," that is a little more obscure and yet it is having profound effects on young Iranian women who are rebelling once again against the mandatory Hijab Law.
Iranian Journalist, Masih Alinejad, who lives in the UK, was overwhelmed at the response she received when she asked Iranian women about their desires to be without the veil.
The Stealthy Freedom Facebook page was bombarded with over 500,000 hits in five weeks, including pictures and stories of women without their veils.
The word, stealthy, is used to describe the new revolution, because of the danger and risk to women who participate in it. If they are caught they can be lashed, fined and imprisoned for disobeying the mandatory law. Therefore in order to avoid the harsh consequences they must "secretly" remove their veils.
For some, removing the veil is a frightening and difficult choice. One Iranian woman, who posted her picture of being hijabless and standing in front of the Azadi Towers in Tehran, described her journey to removing her veil as a scary event.
 "Whenever I saw revolving lights or people dressed in uniforms, I would think it was the police and begin to shake with fear!"
 Eventually she gained more courage and decided not to let what people think or say bother her anymore. She began to ride her bicycle without the veil and ignored the judgmental stares given by women dressed in chadors.
The history of the Hijab is important to the context of understanding why Iran imposes this mandatory law.
On January 8, 1936, The Shah banned the wearing of the veil and threatened arrest to women who defied the law. The law was enacted as an attempt to modernize and westernize Iran.
 On March 7, 1979,  Ayatollah Khomeini reversed the law, making it mandatory that women wear the hijab publicly. Iran had been transformed from a secular to a fundamentalist Islamic state in order to conform more closely to the teachings of the Quran.
Fear and guilt tactics have been employed by mullahs and clerics in order to manipulate the thinking of women in relationship to wearing the veil.  One such Muslim cleric, Taj El-Din Hilaly,  publicly declared, "If the meat was covered, the cats wouldn't roam around it."
Hilaly characterized women without the veil as being like,"uncovered meat," implying that they would be responsible for gang rapes by Muslim men!
In response to this sick implication, I love what the Iranian woman in the Stealthy Freedom movement says: "I cannot accept that my hair would make men sin and lose their faith, unless they have a sick heart, in which case, they need to seek a remedy in their own souls instead of making us keep covered!"

Another example of the ridiculous superstition surrounding the wearing of the veil is the statement of what a clergyman said on Iranian TV, that a woman's bad hijab is the cause of rainstorms and floods.
A brave and courageous woman outraged at the statement, posted a picture of her standing in front of a dried up river bed without her veil, looking up to the sky, begging  for
it to begin raining.
Despite the consequences and the fear and guilt tactics employed by the Iranian Regime, women are standing up fearlessly in their pictures and stories in order to say to the world, "I am a woman, I am more than just a veil!"
One such Iranian woman praised Masih Alinejad in a personal letter on her Stealthy page declaring, "Thank you for creating a page that has given us a chance to be seen by the people of Iran and the people of the rest of the world. I like most of this generation, wish not only for the day when I will have freedom of clothing, but also the day when Iran will be a free country....these chains we bear are never something that we have chosen for ourselves!"

Two years ago, I wrote a very important book called, "The Rose of Nowruz: Dreams of hope and freedom," in which I described a woman freedom fighter in Tehran named Bahareh, who finally broke her silence and stood up against the oppressive government. There is very poignant scene in Chapter two, where Bahareh is waiting for the bus to take her home from university and while she waits patiently she composes a declaration that I think perfectly describes the inner cries and convictions of women in the Stealthy Freedom Movement! 

             "I am a woman. I am more than just a veil.
              I am more than what I wear.
              I am someone. Someone who has the right to speak her mind.
              The right to be heard.
              The right to pursue her dreams.
              The right to be respected and the right to be treated as an equal.
              God has given me all of these rights and no man or government
              can take these rights away from me.
               I am a woman and I proclaim my right to be free!"