Students across Iran unite to support persecuted peers at Tehran's Art University amid protests against forced hijab rules and punishments. At least a dozen university student groups have issued strong statements condemning the repressive treatment and calling for international solidarity. State security forces detained over ten students participating in a peaceful sit-in, prompting outrage and ten further activism.
The hashtag #نه (No) trended on Twitter, showcasing nationwide solidarity. Despite intensified measures, students vow to persist in their fight for freedom and equality. The demonstrations at the Art University have been part of Iran's ongoing "Woman Life Freedom" movement, triggered by the death of Mahsa Jina Amini.
"No to Persecution
The "Woman Life Freedom" movement in Iran has sparked protests against a new parliamentary (Majlis) bill that aims to establish a subclass for unveiled women, suggesting that simply revealing women's hair should lead to denial of essential services, imprisonment, and other punishments thus widening the scope of institutionalized discrimination. The bill, known as the "Chastity and Hijab" Bill, goes further by equating appearing in public without a hijab to harm society and introducing additional punishments such as fines, travel restrictions, and imprisonment. The proposed law also places responsibilities on government employees, business owners, and public figures to enforce compliance, with potential penalties for non-compliance.
UN human rights experts have criticized the criminalization of refusing to wear a hijab as a violation of women's right to freedom of expression. Women in Iran are already facing discrimination and harassment, such as being denied essential services, threats of expulsion from universities, and being barred from public spaces. Women's rights activists from Afghanistan and Iran are campaigning for formal recognition of gender apartheid as a crime under international law.
In this regard and as part of an ongoing discussion in Iran concerning Hijab, Abbas Shamsali, emphasizes in "Kayhan," Khamenei's mouthpiece, the need to uphold religious values and the rule of modesty and chastity in Islamic societies. He criticizes passivity in the face of attempts to undermine these values, underlines that the observance of hijab is essential to maintain the family unit and society, and urges a proactive approach to counter the promotion of indecency and immorality.
He argues that unrestrained relationships and the disregard for hijab can disrupt the natural order of interactions between men and women, damaging family relationships and society. Shamsali further claims against the notion of absolute freedom in appearance, asserting that even in secular Western countries, there are limits to how one can dress in public spaces. He questions the concept of unrestricted freedom, suggesting that it can lead to injustices and undesirable behaviors.