Some commentators in France, from both the political left and the political right, have drawn a connection between women who fight to remove their headscarves (hijab) on the streets of Tehran and those who demand the freedom to wear them here.
According to the leaders of the New People’s Ecological and Social Union (NUPES), the demonstrations by Muslim women in France for the freedom to wear the hijab are the inverted Western mirror of what is happening in Iran.
The extreme right of the political spectrum uses the same reasoning, but claims that Iranian women are the precursors of what will inevitably happen in France due to the theory of the “great replacement”.
Basically, it is the same thing that is at stake: fighting against a supposed French Islamophobia on the one hand, and pointing the finger at excessive tolerance of Islam, on the other.
But these are strange comparisons which, in truth, demonstrate a misunderstanding of the realities, with this very current tendency to create confusion, rather than to make distinctions.
First of all, it’s indecent.
We know that France has been hypersensitive to the question of the hajib for years, but all the same… In Iran, women who take off their hijab in the street risk death, as the news dramatically reminds us.
The Oslo-based NGO Iran Human Rights (IHR) reported earlier this week that “at least 76 people have died”. It’s not just about paying homage to them by bringing in a few TV cameras and causing a little buzz on social media.
In Iran, it is literally a vital struggle for women, in the sense that it engages their lives. In France, wearing a headscarf in the street is not forbidden! And you’re not risking your life…
It is above all to ignore the stakes of the hijab in Iran, and to show culpable myopia.
In Iran, it is not a question of claiming a personal right, guided by the desire to get rid of an ornament that does not correspond to modern standards, or even of refusing to wear an ostentatious religious sign, which may be legitimate.
Nope! The women we see dancing bravely in front of armed militias, hair in the wind, in the Iranian street, are fighting against a system.
That of an Islamist political regime that has made wearing the hijab its symbol. Women are not asking for the banning of the hijab, just the obligation to wear it.
The slogan quickly changed from “we don’t want hijab” to “down with the dictator”. Their revolution is a collective and political action. Not a religious requirement.
As the sociologist Azadeh Kian notes, from the beginning of the Iranian revolution, the Islamist power chose to impose the hijab.
This is an exploitation of religion to make the Koran a means of controlling homes, through the all too famous morality police, by establishing a patriarchy where women find themselves in a situation of subordination.
In Iran, women have political rights since they can vote. On the other hand, the Civil Code places them in a structurally inferior position in private life compared to men – which, by the way, gives the government the possibility of holding a nationalist discourse, since women are invited to ensure the births and reproduction of the population, and therefore the strength of the country.
To forget this at the cost of comparisons that are not at all true is to forget that Islamism, in Iran and elsewhere, is a regime based on oppression and that the courageous struggle of these women is above all political.
To forget it is to bury once again Mahsa Amini and her companions, these brave women who died under the blows of the executioners in the service of a totalitarian and bloodthirsty power.
Isabelle de Gaulmyn is editor-in-chief at The cross and a former Vatican correspondent.