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What a Hijab Revolution Sounds Like

From New York Magazine:

From the first day, I put my scarf in my bag and never put it back on my head. We know that we can be arrested for not wearing our scarves, but we know that people will defend us. And the police know how angry people are. At night, I look online for tips on how to defend myself: if they tie my hands and legs, how I should fight back. We share this information with each other and take it very seriously. 


What is a priority for me is true freedom, collective freedom — where we have a route to express our grievances. It’s striking for me to see the younger generation on the streets — people in their early 20s. They are extremely brave — more so than I. I think the government itself was not expecting this generation to be this fiery. Any stereotypes about women as fragile and weak are completely gone.


It’s not unusual to see girls wearing hijab among the protesting students. Girls with scarves and girls without scarves hold hands together and chant slogans demanding justice and freedom of choice to wear what they want. It is common to see women without scarves walking around the city. I saw a young girl without a scarf boldly pass in front of police on the street. A few meters away, some young Basijis ran after her. The girl continued walking slowly. When the Basijis approached her, she turned around and shouted, “What, what? Come on, kill me. Don’t you want that? Just like you did to Mahsa and Hadis?” All three of them stopped dead in their tracks, shock visible on their faces. They didn’t dare say another word.

Even if the government wants to fight to enforce the dress code, it can’t. It’s impossible to count how many women are bravely walking without their headscarves. These days, no morality police can be seen on the streets.


This is a critique of unequal power relations in all forms — of anyone who is stepping on your rights and limiting your freedom. This critique can be applied in every time and place. The worst thing that could happen would be if people in other countries look at us and see us as poor, oppressed women who are stuck fighting for rights like American and European women did a century ago — that they think we’re at the beginning of the road. People need to understand that our fight is shared with people all over the world including themselves.


Don’t you want that? Don’t you want to kill me? She’s right – annihilating women under burqas, policing them in hijabs, removing the genitals of baby girls, making them clean themselves up all the time in ritual baths, refusing to sit next to them on planes and buses, erasing them and their images from the public square, making beating them legally permissible, etc. – they do want to kill her.

What’s striking in the scene described is the apparent shock on the part of the Basijis as they confront, no doubt for the first time, this desire.

As for their confronter: She can die protesting in the streets, or she can rot to death behind their shrouding and numbing and homicidality.

Margaret Soltan, October 13, 2022 9:30AM
Posted in: end the erasure of women

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