The implications of Mahsa Amini's murder
The Islamic Republic of Iran proving that women are not done fighting for their freedoms in hypocrisy at its finest
C/O Artin Bakhan (Unsplash)
On June 24 the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, effectively taking away a woman’s right to an abortion. Just last year, in 2021, the French Senate voted to outlaw the hijab, or headscarf, for girls under 18, stripping their right to express their religion.
The death of Mahsa Amini was no different in the context of bodily autonomy and women’s rights.
During Amini’s visit to Tehran on Sept. 13, she was arrested by Iran’s morality police for allegedly violating the law requiring all women to wear a headscarf. She was taken to a detention center where she was trained on proper hijab rules and died 3 days after her arrest.
Iran’s security forces claim she died of a heart attack. However, it was revealed her death was caused by a skull fracture due to repeated blows to the head, ergo, the title of this article. It was murder.
Following Amini’s funeral on Sept. 17, protests across the country quickly began to stand in solidarity with Amini. Iranian women took to cutting their hair and burning hijabs to portray a symbol of rebellion against the oppressive regime.
Some media outlets and social media accounts have placed various misleading labels on the protests, such as referring to them as “anti-hijab protests.”
I want to make one thing exceptionally clear: these protests are not against the hijab or against the religion of Islam.
Rather, Iranian women are fighting against using the hijab as a tool of oppression, or in other words, burning its use in this abusive way. The hijab symbolizes modesty and a particular way of life for many Muslim women. Therefore, to use such a beautiful article for purposes that utterly contradict Islam is not okay.
The protests are also not a free invitation to start equating the hijab, or Islam, to oppression. Circling back to the bigger picture, protestors are fighting for their right to choose. Their right to wear a hijab, not wear a hijab, to dress how they like and to have full control over their bodies.
The ironic thing is that the Islamic Revolution of 1979 was actually an Iranian-led declaration of autonomy against foreign ideas. It was supposed to be a good thing. It was later on that it turned into a state government that exploits a manipulated version of religion to control its people.
Yes, Islam does have certain regulations and belief systems that Muslims are expected to follow. However, the religion is very largely based on intention or niyyah. This means that no one can be forced into practicing the teachings of Islam; rather, it is solely up to the individual’s own will.
The Quran, the holy book of Islam, clearly outlines, “There should be no compulsion in religion” [2:257]. I don’t see any place for oppressive, tyrannic men that choose abuse, torture and murder to enforce Islamic teachings upon women. The hypocrisy itself is beyond me.
According to human rights groups, over 75 people have died and 1,200 have been arrested since the beginning of the protests. The numbers, however, are likely higher due to internet blackouts across the country, making it difficult to receive accurate data.
Iranian women are risking their lives to fight this battle against an immediate attack on their freedom. It’s not just a social media campaign; this is real and this is happening. As allies, it is up to us to share and raise awareness about their voices.
Many protests have occurred outside of Iran and around the world in support. This included a protest held in front of Hamilton City Hall on Sept. 26, where hundreds gathered to express their anger and concern over Iran’s oppressive regime.
Recent events, including those in the U.S. and France, clearly show that the century-old fight to advance women’s equality is being put to the test in an age where we never thought it would. Unfortunately, this makes us wonder if progress in this area is sustainable, as it seems that we’ve taken several steps back from things that were presumed to be basic human rights.
Still, women everywhere are vigorously and courageously fighting for their freedom, regardless of the nature in which it’s being taken away. One thing they all seem to have in common is the simple demand for control over one’s own body. It shouldn’t be that hard, but we find ourselves living in an odd world where it is.