Every now and again, the Islamic regime in Iran renews its efforts to combat ‘improper veiling.’ Most recently one mullah has said that improper veiling has ‘spread to villages’ and would lead to the ‘refusal of religion itself.’

Compulsory veiling is one of the first things the regime imposed when it secured power after suppressing the 1979 Iranian revolution. Its first target was women. In February 1979, Khomeini announced the suspension of the Family Protection Law. On March 3, he announced that women could no longer be judges. On 4 March, he said that in Islam the right to divorce was the prerogative of the husband. On March 6, he announced that women were to wear the hejab in the workplace and on and on it went from there.

On March 8, International Women’s Day, when thousands poured onto the street in opposition to these new rules, they were pushed back by brute force. The hezbollah herds attacked women with the slogan ‘ya rusari ya tusari’ – ‘either veiled or beaten.’

More than thirty years on, the regime still struggles to impose veiling, and is faced with a ‘female’ revolution and resistance.

Women fight back all the time, even though improper veiling is dealt with imprisonment and fines (including absurdly a fine of $15 for having sunglasses on top of your head, $30 for wearing a short gown or manteau, $30 for wearing a light-coloured gown or manteau, £4.50 per nail for nail varnish, and $40-125 for having light-coloured hair…)

Here is a video of a woman resisting arrest for improper veiling. She screams ‘leave me alone’ and the crowd comes to her aid:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwx0MDjvl0U&w=220&h=170]

In this one, while she resists, she is eventually arrested:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkDKLYvN6Lw&w=220&h=170]

BTW here is a video of the 1979 protest against compulsory veiling, which still gives me goose bumps watching it. One of the slogans is ‘rights are universal, not western.’

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1Aecot3pxc&w=220&h=170]

But try explaining this to all the ‘feminists’ and pro-Islamist ‘leftists’ who speak of the ‘right to veil.’


  1. I have a doubt on veiling. In India, even some men cover their faces to prevent dust. But they should uncover their faces if they enter bank or ATM for security reasons. What happens if same security rules are implemented in Arab countries and women are also ordered to unveil their faces in banks and ATMs?

  2. Maryam, I followed your comment from The New Agenda — I am a member and writer for Amy. I am intrigued by the lot of women in Iran, and the strength with which they fight imposed veiling and other attempts to oppress them. I love your blog, and it reminds me of 'Reading Lolita in Tehran,' which I read a few years ago, but it really resonated with me. I write about female empowerment on my own blog, Marinagraphy, but reading your work goads me to write more about these issues that affect women globally — not just here in the US. Thank you for all that you do to show the injustices of women in the ME.

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