White Wednesday: Feminist Revolution Takes off Amidst the Public Protests in Iran

By Maryam Iraj

Today, world is celebrating the Hijab Day and Iranian women are celebrating White Wednesday by wearing or taking off a white hijab on the streets, with a bang!

Throughout the Iranian history, for more than 2500 years, woman remained central to the political struggle. Be it the secular forces of Pahlavi or the extreme religious mindset of Khomeini, women were honed in from both sides. Veiled in the 1900s during the Qajar dynasty in pursuance of religious establishment, unveiled from 1925-1979, during the Pahlavi period in its pro-Western pursuits, and re-veiled in 1979 Revolution.

Fast forward, its 2018 and Iran is experiencing another cultural disclosure. And this time, it’s induced and spurred by the oppressed and not by the oppressor.Martin Luther King in his letter from Birmingham jail, 16 April, 1963, wrote these timeless words: Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.  These words are more befitting now than ever.

Women are up and ready for jail sentence for publicly reinstating their will—will to stand for their freedom. They are not burning hijab, they are burning the imposition by male domineering society to wear it or not to wear it. Decision should rest with the one who are responsible to pull it off. And this is exactly what Iranian females are protesting for. Since December 2017, women have been documented in photographs and video-shots on social media standing on roads with their head scarves tied to sticks which they hold in silence. But this time, silence is deafening.

A huge feminist movement is dawning and is solidly grounded in the progression of a collective female consciousness to raise voice, to register their concern. The most obvious yet the most subtle aspect of this movement is its unprecedented and culturally formative solidarity among Iranian women. Those who wear hijab and those who don’t; they are all at one page seeking freedom to choose. This medium of resistance is sweeping across-the-board and picking up the perfect momentum. Women in veil, in solidarity with those who don’t want to.:

Image Source: Twitter

Iranian women are bravely defying the Iranian authorities to oppose the requisite headscarf rule as the regime clamp down on growing protests. Like many other Muslim countries, always on the edge of extremes, Iran is detaining and exercising violence to bulldoze this revolution. But the strength of this old lady has already failed them:

Champions of this feminist movement are many and more will join in across the board. But the 31-year-old Vida Movahed now known as  “ the Girl of Enghelab Street,” came out, took off her hijab (head scarf) on a street in Tehran in December 2017, and kicked this movement off on roads. She was detained in the following days but was released after few weeks.

Following video shows the courage of this women:

In her footsteps, initially six women in Iran have been pictured protesting and now a flood is out there, blasting it all off. Videos of these tweets have been retweeted over 15,000 times and got more than 32,000 like, count is still on.

Many people, including Reza Shah Pahlavi, celebrated the woman’s protest on social media. Read the following tweet:

So far, hundreds of women have been arrested for protests.

Check out the link below of Shimma, a female protester, in front of the detention center:

In a message on social media, Reza Shah Pahlavi, supports the cause in his tweet few hours ago:

By exercising the power to shape identity, regime declares itself powerful in a very coercive manner. Efforts were always made, especially in post-revolutionary Era of 1979, to silence the voices but there are millions of voices out there which cannot be stifled any longer. They are no longer wordless. Silence, in reaction, takes many shapes and forms. Iranian cinema, art and literature in one glaring example of that.

There was a time, when mini-skirts in Tehran were shorter than in Paris. Nonetheless, Islamic Revolution of 1979 and its subsequent impressions on the position of the Iranian woman has proven the ineffectiveness of the 39 years of religious sweats by the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) to establish and institutionalize the image of an “ideal” Muslim woman. Islamic Republic of Iran’s (IRI) misogynistic ideology denied women their very basic rights in order to keep the matters “within household or within the four walls” which resulted in a very strong resistance.

The onset of 2018 has seen Iranian public in massive discontent on the policies of the government. Since the Green Revolution of 2009, it is the biggest public disapproval of IRI’s dogmatic strategies for both culture and economy. Government is cracking down and, according to the state-run media outlets, 21 deaths and 450 arrests are on the record. But according to the critics of the IRI, number is far higher than the claims made in the official statements.

Not only women but men are also supporting Iranian women in their struggle to choose for themselves.

This time, they are the trailblazers, they are the pathfinders. And they will set the bar so high—so high that no wall can fence them.

Souls can’t be dampened, once awoken.

In solidarity!