In Iran, the vigilante monsters who throw acid in a woman’s face because of “bad hijab”, are doing so in the name of Islam.
Even worse, they do so in the name of the law as well: acid attacks began immediately following the passing of a bill in the Majlis, Iran’s parliament, to enforce the proper use of hijab by empowering vigilantes.
The Politics of the Hijab
Hardliners in the Majlis have been calling for harsher enforcement laws for “enjoining good and forbidding wrong” for ages but even more so since Rouhani took office. This is perhaps in response to Rouhani’s election promises to tone down the hijab laws and to give women more freedom or perhaps even in response to Rouhani’s efforts to close a nuclear deal with the West.
Already back in July, a statement signed by 195 Majlis representatives called on Rouhani to back “efforts to change the lifestyle of Iranian people regarding modesty and hijab” as part of the war against “cultural invasion against the Islamic regime”.
In their petition, they called the hijab situation in Iran “disgraceful” that did not “meet the dignity of the Islamic republic”. The co-signers of the petition blamed TV/internet for the situation but mostly they blamed themselves: “If when we first saw a person with bad Islamic hijab we confronted her and prevented her from entering meetings, offices etc, there would have certainly been no second or third such person. But since we ignored the case, the problem has now become rampant where we cannot enforce it even in our own families and can’t even mention the idea or give advice on it.”
Rouhani’s Shining Moment
To be fair, not only has Rouhani repeatedly spoken out against harsh hijab enforcement, but he slammed the proposed bill in the Majlis at the outset and his outspoken reaction to the acid attacks shines as a beacon of what could be right in Iran.
Not only did he quickly condemn the attacks but he promised the attackers “the most severe punishment” while attacking the regime itself: “The sacred call to virtue is not the prerogative of a select group of people…a handful taking the moral high ground and acting as custodians…all under the banner of Islam.”
Unfortunately, Rouhani’s track record in fulfilling promise, especially in human rights, is inversely proportional to the amount of promises that he made.
But while Rouhani promised that the government would pursue the case with “all its might”, other Iranian leaders simply went into denial.
Regime Leaders Keep On Denying
Javad Larijani, Iran’s Human Rights chief, for example, blames (drum roll) “foreign agents” (clapping). But then again, Larijani fervently “believes” that Iran doesn’t have a human rights problem and sees, like his brother and Majlis speaker, Ali Larijani, foreign intervention in any criticism against Iran. By the way, Javad’s other famous brother, the head of Iran’s judiciary, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, doesn’t see the connection between the acid attacks and the enforcement bill passed at the Majlis.
The acid attacks and the ensuing protest caught the attention of the media with pictures and movies spreading around the world virally creating a backlash against the Iranian media who were warned about associating the attacks to the enforcement bill. Tehran prosecutor, Gholam Hossein Esmaili emphasized this further by explaining that connecting the two is “an immoral act”. Denial, denial, denial and more denials.
The Iranian people obviously don’t believe that the linkage is not “immoral: thousands of men and women spontaneously took to the streets in protest while the main protests took place in front of the Majlis building shouting out slogans that equated the vigilantes actions to the horrors of ISIS (“Isfahan doesn’t want ISIS, stop acid attacks“).
And while the Majlis is far from being a group of terrorist ISIS thugs, the Majlis members should accept the responsibility of their actions: passing a bill to empower vigilantes to enforce hijab laws has spiraled out of control and has led to the suffering of these innocent women. Blaming foreigners and the women themselves is simply an act of cowardice instead of manning up.