By Kaitlyn Bell
On September 16, 2022, an Iranian cultural and political conflict made headlines. The headlines were about Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old girl who is believed to be murdered by Iranian police for incorrectly wearing her hijab.
Mahsa Amini was arrested under the accusation that she broke Iranian hijab laws, which state that under the Islamic Penal Code, it is an offense for women to leave the house without wearing a hijab. Three days before Mahsa Amini’s death, she was detained by Irshad Patrols, also known as the morality police. The Kurdish woman from the northwestern city of Saqez died in custody. According to the police, she had suffered from sudden heart failure, but many disagree. Her brother, a witness of the arrest in Tehran, claims that she was beaten with a baton and her head was banged against a vehicle by the morality police. This accusation has led to many protests about the rights of women in Iran.
Source by Suha Tasfia
Protestors flood the streets of Iran in response to Mahsa Amini's death.
In fact, Iranian hijab laws have been a controversial issue for many years and are being actively discussed and debated. After the Islamic Revolution in 1981, the hijab was ruled mandatory for women. These laws, also issued and redacted in other countries, have been a hot issue for decades, such as in Amini’s case. For some students who choose to wear a hijab, these laws feel restrictive to their personal and religious choice.
“There are billions of individuals who identify as Muslims and not everyone will follow the religion in the same way. The Iranian government has no right to tell the women in the nation how to follow their religion and how they should dress according to Islam. The hijab is something that can be viewed differently by everyone,” junior Manal Rashid said.
Since the news of Amini’s death, many have called into question the rules placed upon them regarding their hijabs. Inevitably, an outburst of protests have spread throughout Iran since then. There have been multiple instances where women are pictured rebelliously, waving their hijabs above their head or burning them, to show public disagreement with the Iranian government. Additionally, graphic videos of severely injured protesters have been uploaded onto the internet. In response, the Iranian government and security forces have ordered a complete internet shutdown and removed the usage of apps, such as WhatsApp and Instagram, to stop the videos of protests from gaining popularity. This has made it difficult to identify more specific information, but it has been identified that over two dozen children have been killed. The situation has caught the eye of lawmakers and political leaders such as UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Nada al-Nashif. She recently expressed her alarm at the detainment of Mahsa Amini and the violent response by police.
For many, this issue is personal, as the choice to wear the hijab is made everyday.
“Realizing how privileged I am to have the rights that women in other places have to fight and die for is truly a heartbreaking experience. It's all a result of abuse of power and patriarchal oppression; the hijab itself is not to be blamed for these tragedies,” junior Areej Zaidi said.
For others, the issue is not personal, but rather a matter of freedom of religion and expression.
"I think that it's someone's choice to wear a hijab or not. I respect everyone's religious decisions. Not wearing one is okay too, and no one should be forced to do anything," senior Margaret Gray said.
Ultimately, the controversy surrounding the hijab continues to spark debate as protests emerge in places like Iran.