My Stealthy Freedom: Iranian headscarf and Western propaganda

Among the many misconceptions regarding Iran in the West, one which is often mentioned is the women’s rights in Iran, specially as it relates to their dress code and the norms regarding the covering of the hair. The current dominant narrative which abounds on the internet and mainstream media is perpetuated by the Western feminists, radical human rights activists, and the expatriates hostile to the current Iranian system of government, to name a few. This narrative is maybe embellished accordingly to serve the narrator’s specific purposes, but the core narrative remains generally the same, and runs along these lines:

“Iran was a modern and progressive country with a Western-style society, ruled by a patriotic Shah who improved women’s rights and introduced modern clothing, but all his reforms and progresses were destroyed in the 1979 revolution led by radical clerics with help of rural and conservative Iranians. According to the strict Quranic texts, the women were suddenly forced to wear the Islamic veil despite their wishes, all protests were brutally suppressed and the police is still oppressing the women who are fighting against such regressive headscarf laws.“

However, when examined critically, it becomes clear that this narrative contains at least ten inaccuracies, which include factual errors, misinterpretations, and errors of omission. The purpose of this article is to point out these inaccuracies and present to the reader an accurate account in each case.

#1 Background

The narrative begins without presenting the targeted audience with the complete background, and, as such, it fails to represent the relevant historical context. It begins with bare-headed women, and it ends up with women in headscarf or veil. This suggests the fairy tale of not wearing headscarf as something socially acceptable in the past, and completely ignores historical reality.

Truth is that for many centuries, since ancient pre-Islamic times, female headscarf was a normative dress-code in the Greater Iran.[1] This situation did change somewhat in the Middle Ages after arrival of the Turkic nomadic tribes from Central Asia, whose women didn’t wear headscarves.[2] However, after the Safavid centralization in the 16th century, headscarf became defined as the standard head dress for the women in urban areas all around the Iranian Empire.[3] Exceptions to this standard were seen only in the villages and among the nomads, so women without headscarf could be found only among rural people and tribes like Qashqai.[4] It must be mentioned that veiling of faces, that is, covering the hair and the whole face was very rare among the Iranians and was mostly restricted to the Arabs and the Afghans.[5] Later, during the economic crisis in the late 19th century under the Qajar dynasty, the poorest urban women could not afford headscarves due to the high price of textile and its scarcity.[6]

To summarize, owing to the aforementioned historical circumstances, the covering hair has always been norm in Iranian dress-code, and removing it was considered as something impolite, or even as an insult.[7] In the early 20th century, the Iranians associated not wearing it as something rural, nomadic, poor and non-Iranian.[8]

This gives a completely different perspective on the normative wearing of headscarves by the urban Iranian women, as opposed to the Western women.[9] An important remark must be made here: Since Iran, unlike most of its neighbors was never colonized by any of the Western powers,[10] it follows that the Western influences and foreign dress-code simply couldn’t prevail.[11]

#2 Origins

Note the prevailing narrative’s use of the adjective “patriotic” when describing the last Shah of Iran and his policies. This is designed to invoke nationalism and implies that unveiling of the Iranian women was restoring the primordial Iranian culture. This discourse follows official policy of the Pahlavi dynasty (which had as its main rival the clergy), whose aggressive westernization was led under the nationalistic pretext of so-called “Iranization”, and led to attribution of everything non-western as religious, Islamic and Arabic.[12] Within this context, the headscarf is falsely described as a foreign element in the Iranian culture, imposed by invading Arab forces, while the pro-Western dictator is presented as liberator.[13]

This myth is a pure fantasy from historical and ethnographic point-of-view, since headscarf as part of ancient Iranian dress-code is verified in both ancient texts and artistic representations[14] (see also #1). Chador itself is a Persian word and its mentioned in ancient Zoroastrian texts.[15]


Image 1. Female dress code has been the same in the past 2500 years

It is also important to mention that the concept of hijab in the Quran doesn’t imply headscarf but a modest dress-code in general,[16] and interpretations vary widely depending on the specific country, the population practicing Islam, and its cultural norms.[17]

Claims about “imposing headscarves on Iranians” is also contradictory considering there’s a consensus among historians that Rashidun dynasty, who fought against the Byzantines and the Iranians, actually co-opted the use of headscarf from the Iranian Sassanid dynasty, after taking control of Mesopotamia.[18]

Not only was the headscarf targeted by such bizarre Pahlavi policies, even some of masterpieces of Iranian architecture were destroyed, being mistakenly described as “not enough Iranian”.[19] Such distorted view is still widespread among monarchists and quasi-nationalists, and it also reflects a delusion about their monopoly on ancient history.[20]

Even today, pseudo-historical romantic images of half-naked ancient Iranian women are being distributed by political activists on social networks. On the other hand, headscarf as original Iranian dress is publicly promoted inside Iran by using ancient Achaemenid reliefs.[21] Scholars of the contemporary history agree that wearing of headscarves was not only religious, but also strong nationalistic symbol during the Iranian revolution.[22]

#3 “Natural” unveiling

In its claims of “modernization”, the Western narrative fails to describe the practical policies of the Pahlavi regime. By invoking the concept of Western standards, the targeted audience often wrongly assumes that unveiling of the Iranian women was a result of an all-encompassing and prolonged democratic process, brought about through dialogue and education, and that rejection of the headscarf by women was a natural and spontaneous outcome of this process of democratization.

But, much to the contrary, the fact is that the Iranian women were forced to remove their veils abruptly, swiftly and forcefully in 1935 through an arbitrary decree by Reza Shah,[23] who also banned many types of male traditional clothing under pretext that “Westerners now won’t laugh at us”.[24]

Western historians agree that, this would have been a progressive step if women had indeed chosen to do it themselves, but instead this ban humiliated and alienated many Iranian women,[25] since its effect was comparable to the hypothetical situation in which the European women had suddenly been ordered to go out topless into the street.[26] An arbitrary decree by Reza Shah was criticized even by British consul in Tehran.[27]

To enforce this decree, the police was ordered to physically remove the veil off of any woman who wore it in public. Women were beaten, their chadors and headscarves torn off, and their homes forcibly searched.[28] Until Reza Shah’s abdication in 1941, many women simply chose not leave their houses in order to avoid such embarrassing confrontations,[29] and few even committed suicide.[30]

A far larger escalation of violence occurred in the summer of 1935 when Reza Shah ordered all men to wear European-style bowler hat, which was Western par excellence. This provoked massive non-violent demonstrations in July in the city of Mashhad, which were brutally suppressed by the army, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 100 to 5,000 people (including women and children).[31] Historians often point that Reza Shah’s ban on veiling and his policies (know as kashf-e hijab campaign) are unseen even in Atatürk’s Turkey, and some scholars state that it is very difficult to imagine that even Hitler’s or Stalin’s regime would do something similar.[32]

It should be also noted that the Pahlavi regime did not pioneer women’s rights in Iran and that feminist movements had already existed in Iran for decades.[33] Ironically, the abusive policies of the Pahlavi regime created such an embarrassing situation for many previously independent women that they refused to go outside their homes subsequent to the ban of headscarf, hence their previous positions as independent women were effectively degraded.[34]

Later, official measures relaxed slightly under next Shah and wearing of the headscarf or chador was no longer an offence,[35] but became a significant hindrance to climbing the social ladder as it was considered a badge of backwardness and an indicator of being a member of the lower class. Discrimination against the women wearing the headscarf or chador was still widespread with public institutions actively discouraging their use, and some eating establishments refusing to admit women who wore them.[36]

This general process of deculturalization also included extensive official indoctrination alleging the “non-Iranian” origin of the headscarf (see #2). This period is characterized by dichotomy between small minority who considered wearing of headscarf as a sign of backwardness and vast majority who considered it as progressive.[37] Despite all legal pressures, obstacles and discriminations, the largest proportion of the Iranian women continued to wear headscarves or chadors, contrary to the widespread opposite claims.[38]

#4 “Forced” veiling

While describing the restoration process of the original dress-code, the above story inevitably includes the myth of “imposing” the headscarf. Other prevailing terms which can be found in many Western reviews include “forcing”, “compulsory”, “mandatory”, “obligated” and so on, all in order to create the illusion of a sudden decision by Iranian “men” or Khomeini himself.[39]

Ironically, this misinformation was spread even inside Iran during revolutionary times, but proved as false. In one of his public speeches during March 1979, Khomeini has advocated the wearing a headscarf, and his words were distorted by some groups as a “call to immediately impose of the veiling”.[40] The transitional government quickly denied rumors and described such groups as monarchist and Marxist counter-revolutionaries, while Khomeini further explained that restoring genuine dress-code should be the people’s decision and taken gradually.[41] Several other officials also argued that in the spirit of Islam veiling should be only encouraged and promoted rather then imposed by coercion or force.[42]

This proved as true and decision of its restoration has been publicly announced in 1984, after long and complex polemics among Iranian women themselves.[43] Such democratic decision is completely understandable considering the headscarf had been a symbol of the revolution from its beginnings,[22] and not to wear it became associated with identifying with the West and the abusive and brutal policies of the Pahlavi regime.[44]

Iranian_Revolution_WomenImage 2. Various types of headscarves during the Iranian Revolution

However, the whole picture has been the subject to fierce manipulations and two widespread distortions include twisting or equalizing two completely different processes. The first method consists on the whitewashing of the brutal unveiling policies by the monarchist regime (see #3), along with attributing it to a later process of democratic re-veiling.[45]

The least radical way counterbalances those two, claiming both are strongly related in nature,[46] which is not possible since in the former case there was no sudden decision, there was no harassment, and there was no massive public opposition. Iranian historians make an analogy with the liberation of a previously occupied city, noting that campaigns of aggression and liberation aren’t comparable.

#5 Female “resistance”

This unfounded claim of the “forced” veiling of women never goes without the accompanying fairy tale of the “oppressed women who resisted it”, usually packaged with distorted perceptions of headscarf (see #6) and the myth of earlier “spontaneous” unveiling (see #3). Such manipulations began in later stages of Iranian revolution in the news reports by Western media, when recordings of thousands of veiled women chanting anti-monarchist slogans were conversely presented as a “protest against new anti-woman policies”.

In reality, the wearing of headscarf and chador was one of main symbols of the revolution,[22] along with the resurgence and wearing of other traditional Iranian dresses. Headscarves and chadors were worn by all women as a religious and/or nationalistic symbols,[22] and even many secular and Westernized women, who did not believe in wearing them before the revolution, began wearing them, in solidarity with the vast majority of women who always wore them.[47] Wearing headscarves and chadors was used as a significant populist tool and Iranian veiled women played an important rule in the revolution’s victory.[48]

The alleged female “resistance” claimed in the Western narrative is based on a single incident in March 1979, when crowds of chanting women were misrepresented as “anti-veil protesters” by some counter-revolutionary groups who devised this false rumor, and even today use it for political propaganda.[49]

There are at least five serious deficiencies in their interpretation. First, it fails to mention that the event took place on the International Women’s Day, so women marched not only in Iran but all around the World, for various reasons.[50]

Second, it fails to point out that some of the women who indeed marched against the “veiling policy” were motivated by yet another false rumor about Khomeini’s supposed call for “immediately imposing of headscarf”[40] (see #4), and also by additional speculations about elimination of women’s rights regarding Family Protection Law of 1967.[51] This anti-Islamic hysteria was spread by the monarchist and radical leftist elements,[41] but both rumors proved to be untrue and merely hoaxes. Family law was indeed annulled later, but was actually replaced by a far more protective law in 1987.[52]

Third, it fails to mention that rage of the manipulated women wasn’t directed against veil itself, but against the possibility that they won’t be able to decide their own future for themselves.[53] Fourth, it fails to mention that the majority of women who marched were not only wearing headscarves or chadors but also chanting slogans against those who opposed it.[54]

protest march 79Image 3. International Women’s Day 1979, often falsely presented as “protest against headscarf”

Finally, it fails to mention that women with any skepticism about revolutionary intentions had their chance to vote against Khomeini and his comrades who were openly advocating restoring of original dress-code, because referendum about Islamic Republic was held three weeks later. Of course, women participated in this referendum and it was approved by over 99% of voters, while only 0.69% voted against and additionally 2% abstained from voting.[55]

These facts demonstrate that any claim of a significant opposition against headscarves simply untrue. A very small, but vocal, minority of thoroughly Westernized women from the upper class who totally opposed wearing of headscarves was democratically overwhelmed and defeated, and many of them left the country.[56] Ironically, this negligible proportion of population arriving in Western countries has immediately became major voice of “Iranian perspective on headscarf”[57] (see #9).

Other widespread myths include the alleged brutal suppression of “anti-veil protest”,[58] the bizarre claims of “temporarily wearing headscarves during the revolution” and “not expecting to wear them afterwards”,[59] or the changed perspective about headscarf in past three decades. Such distortions and relativizing lack any concrete evidence from inside Iran.[60]

#6 Distorted perceptions

An important point which must be considered is that the narrative is formulated (at least implicitly) from a Eurocentric vantage point, and thus, it appeals to the current Western values, standards and ideals. At the same time, the narrative completely ignores the Iranian traditional values, standards and ideals by failing to utilize cultural relativism in any form, and by constantly attempting to inject foreign perspective into the Iranian sensibilities.[61]

It is through such distortions that, for example, wearing of headscarves is understood by the target audience to be associated with only the conservative, rural and religious populations and with people who have little education. Passing such unjustified and inaccurate summary judgment may be understandable when it is carried out by a Westerner who does not examine the claims of the narrative critically. Such misinformed and uncritical judgments are even passed by some Iranian immigrants who have lived in the West for a long time or have been raised in some Western country. But, a judgment being understandable does not mean that the said judgment is accurate. In fact, in this case, the judgment made given inaccurate information, stands in stark contrast with the actual state of affairs in Iran, as discussed in a few instances below.

In the first place, veiling or the use of headscarves is seen as a civilized and an honorable practice, whereas unveiling or neglecting to wear headscarves in public is seen as impolite and offensive.[7] As stated earlier in this paper, such phenomena can be explained only by resorting to specific historical background, traditions and customs of Iran (see #1). Considering that veiling has been a part of the urban culture and a mark of wealthy social status for many centuries, unveiling in Iran is associated with rurality, nomadism and poverty, or even with prostitution.[62] Thus, contrary to frequent suggestions, the adoption of headscarf can not be associated with rural women, or even with their lower-class background.[63]

Second, attempts at changing this association and perceptions by the Pahlavi regime in 1935 had merely a cosmetic and superficial effect under the threat of force, and was never really truly accepted and internalized by the majority of the women.[38] Again, this is analogous to our hypothetical attempt of suddenly changing Western norms by adopting toplessness as a fashionable public standard, forcing it on all women.[26] They will comply under the threat of force, but its hard to believe that they do so willingly or accept it internally. Yet, even in this farfetched thought experiment, it is easy to see how women who refuse to go out topless will be considered as backward.

Third, in the Iranian culture, forcible removal of the headscarf of any woman is considered to be an unforgivable insult to her,[7] furthermore the removal of the headscarf of any woman by herself publicly is considered to be an irrevocable offense to male because it means she do not consider the contester to be a man.[64]

Finally, refusing to wear a headscarf or chador in the post-revolutionary Iran is considered to be suggestive of implicitly supporting the Pahlavi regime, its brutal policies, its aggressive deculturalization,[44] and uneducated indoctrinators who have tried to distort its origins (see #2).

By considering merely these few examples, one comes to see a completely different picture. This picture presents the reality accurately within the context of the Iranian history and culture, unlike the picture painted by those who intentionally use selective, out-of-context information and embellish it with outdated colonial stereotypes such as the “oppressed and exploited” veiled or scarfed Iranian women.[65] In fact, from an Iranian point of view, it is the unveiled and unscarfed women who are seen as exploited by Western materialism and consumerism.[66]

The consequences of the post revolution re-veiling have also been subject to various manipulations accompanied with false claims that re-veiling has led to the limitation and segregation of women. In reality, such phenomena were actually the result of the unveiling policies by Pahlavi regime,[25] and revolutionary re-veiling has led to a far larger, more extensive women’s emancipation in the public sphere, at times with dramatic results.[67] In the field of education, for example, the rate of literacy among young women has jumped from 25% in late pre-revolutionary period to nearly 100% today,[68] and the number of female university students has surpassed those in leading European countries.[69] This progress is widely ignored not only in the mainstream media, but also in the Western academia.[70]

It should be also noted that a few years prior to the Iranian revolution, a tendency towards questioning the relevance of Eurocentric gender roles as the model for Iranian society gained much ground among university students and it was manifested in street demonstrations where many women from the non-veiled middle classes put on the veil[47] and symbolically rejected the gender ideology of Pahlavi regime.[44] Such facts are another major blow to those who are desperately trying to bind headscarf with “lack of education”, which again follows Eurocentric perspective and reflects the superiority complex of those who are educated in Western countries.[71]

Gradually, the post revolutionary Iranian women’s fashion evolved from the monotonous chador to its present form, where a simple headscarf (rousari) combined with other colorful elements of clothing has become more predominant.[72] It is important to emphasize that this change was not the result of some inclination toward Westernization, as it is often wrongly presented.[73] In contrast, the change was the result of an organic evolution of women’s fashion in Iran, within the context of Iranian culture and using Iranian elements of design which included various traditional (even rural) patterns, as Iranian designers have expressed themselves.[74]

The overall result of fashion evolution has led to one ironic phenomena – utterly level of coverage has decreased comparing to pre-revolutionary period, which was marked by prevailing chador and single-digit percentage of fully Westernized women.[75]

In general, modern fashion trends are sometimes used for creating illusory correlation with liberal political views. Thus, in the West, one might conclude that the more conservative a woman’s dress, the more conservative are her political views. This does not necessarily apply to Iran, where the alleged “resistance” of women (see #5) to the more conservative fashions can be easily refuted by fact that many progressive female reformists wear chador, and many political conservatives wear modern headscarves.[76] It is noteworthy that the former Iranian president Ahmadinejad, who is from the conservative camp, has publicly encouraged the Iranian women to dress in modern Iranian clothing.[77] It should be also noted that female members of many Marxist counter-revolutionary groups, including the most harsh anti-IRI secular organization whose leaders reside in the Western countries, always appear veiled in public.[78]

In summary, wearing of chador or headscarf cannot be blindly associated with retrograde views,[79] but such distorted perceptions still play as a fertile ground for Iranophobic propaganda in the West (see #9).

#7 Laws and definitions

The dominant narrative perpetuated by Iran’s adversaries in the West are often embellished with imaginary Iranian laws regarding public indecency. At best, the laws contrived by the adversaries are the result of their personal misinterpretation based on fabricated rumors, but most often they are completely contrived and spurious. Such fake and concocted law are so numerous that they can form their own canon. Examples include, “women who fail to observe a headscarf receive 74 lashes as a punishment”, “women are forbidden to show their hair”, “women may only have their hands uncovered”, or “women are jailed or heavily fined for any indiscretion regarding their clothing”.[80]

None of these claims exist in Iranian public indecency law (book V, ch. 18, art. 141),[81] which actually contains only general guidelines of proper behavior in public places. It applies for both men and women, and does not mention anything about “veiled head”, “hair”, “hands” or “legs”, in relation to either women’s or men’s clothing.[81]

Its a typical legal text about public morality that can be found in most countries of the World, applied differently depending on local moral and ethical standards in a society. However, punishments are different – ranging from 10 days up to two months imprisonment, or 12-74 whips as an alternative (by personal request).[81]

Punishment basically applies for more serious violations like half- and fully-naked examples, but what makes them different from other countries like (let’s say) the United States, is a fact that for the worst violation like complete nudity in some US states person may be sentenced up to five years imprisonment, or 30 times longer than in Iran.[g2] Much longer punishments for identical offense also exist in the United Kingdom, another vocal critic of Iran.[g3]

Beside the general guidelines, the second section of the same Iranian law article refers to women and mentions a hijab (as female dress-code) in public places, but the possibility of physical punishment is excluded and replaced with fines ranging from 1.5 to 15 euros (or 2 to 20 USD).[81] As such it belongs to the lowest levels offenses and usually ends in a verbal caution,[g4] while the punishment by whipping (even if personally preferred) is simply impossible.

Confusing thing about hijab is that its repeatedly simplified as “headscarf”, while it actually refers to female dress-code which itself isn’t defined.[g5] The Iranian concept of hijab includes a headscarf (among other things), but nothing regarding its shape, color, transparency, material, tying, covered parts or veiled/unveiled extent is specified, and there are also different perspectives on ‘normal’ veiling and ‘religious’ veiling.[g6]

It varies widely across the country and changes spontaneously and naturally depending of the place and the situation. To add to this confusion, the concept of “public space” in the legal text is not clearly defined, and basically applies to an urban area. Wearing a khimar or chador is thus prevalent in public institutions, government offices, mosques and sacred cities like Qom and Mashhad or historical production centers like Yazd,[g7] while loosely formed headscarf (rousari) that barely covers the hair is common on city streets, parks and the most other urban open spaces.

typesImage 4. Differences between khimar, chador and rousari

Complete unveiling is most prevalent in homes, rural areas and nature, and dress-code significantly erodes on the beaches for both females and males. However, this again depends on specific location ranging from more rigid zones in the Persian Gulf (with exception of the Kish island) to more free zones like youth mixed beaches.

One of the erroneous beliefs is that removing the headscarf in the street presents serious legal or social violation. This is not so, given the fact that it happens frequently when women fix and adjust their headscarves often, for example, when it falls down. At worst, this temporary period when the women is not wearing her headscarf in public is analogous in the West to a man who is shirtless in public in an urban area: it is considered generally as a gaffe when temporary, otherwise it is considered impolite. Woman may also remove it intentionally during a dispute with a man, which represents an insult against him.[64]

Another common misconception is that unveiling in private homes or while traveling outside of the country reflects women’s opposition to headscarf (see also #5). This is utter nonsense, considering the differences between private and public dress-codes also exist in Western and many other countries. Furthermore, rather than reflecting women’s opposition, these different dress codes reflect the Iranian women’s adaptability to foreign cultural environment when outside Iran.[g7b]

Similar examples may be found in many other non-Western cultures – in their own countries, Russian will avoid shake the hand of the opposite sex, Chinese will avoid direct eye contact, Japanese will ask visitor to remove shoes after entering a home, Tibetan will greet with sticking out his tongue, but none of them will insist on the same in the Western countries where it can be seen as rudeness, or even legally fined.[g8]

#8 Double standards

In addition to all the above mentioned errors and distortions, politicization of headscarf contains many logical fallacies. Their political rhetoric often, not only neglects the academic approach and methods of cultural relativism, but in contrast uses some spurious cultural universalism, thus represents to the targeted audience an exclusively Eurocentric perspective. Many double standards are also being made, on the basis of female-male differences, country comparisons, and between a headscarf and other cultural norms.

One major misrepresentation, which is a result of constantly invoking women’s clothing only, indirectly suggests that dress-code for Iranian males does not differ from a Western one. This is not true, since the Iranian men are also more covered comparing to their Western counterparts.[h1] For example wearing of male shorts, including three quarter pants, in urban public spaces is seen as impolite (like in Indochinese countries).[h2]

Another major difference is a rejection of neckties by Iranian men since it is widely associated with agents of deposed Pahlavi regime. Again, this is not regulated by the law or any legal definitions (see #7), but by Iranian moral and social norms. There’s also no any trace of male “resistance” against it, as in the case of women (see #5).

Some may argue that differences still exist considering that wearing of headwear is a social obligation for the Iranian women only. However, coming from the self-appointed western pundits, such arguments are both disingenuous and hypocritical. After all, the West also has dress codes which apply to women, and not men. For example, a man is not going to be arrested for walking in public bare-chested (he might be considered rude), but a bare-chested woman walking in a public place will certainly be confronted by the police and may be arrested. An argument about alleged women’s disadvantage can also be annulled with the fact that Iranian and Western women are wearing both pants and skirts, while men are wearing only pants (otherwise it may be considered as cross-dressing).

This intentional disregard of the historical, traditional and cultural basis of different dress codes for women and men in Iran, which every western country also has to some extent, is often accompanied by a condescending and insolent presentation of a specious concept claimed to be “freedom of choice”. A claim that women had more choices in the Pahlavi period can be easily dismissed considering the abusive laws of the Pahlavi regime and the widespread discrimination of the majority of women whose choice was to wear a headscarf or a chador, by a minority of Western puppets and their blindly westernized lackeys. (see #3).

A similar effect results when Westerners try to put themselves in a privileged position and see themselves as have the right to preach and give lessons to the Iranian people. Putting aside cultural relativism and different perspectives on dress code, their discourse invokes a false universalism according to which the west provides more “freedom of choice” than Iran. This attitude stems from a serious cultural delusion and Eurocentric double standards, considering that the Western dress codes also contain mandatory minimum, and even maximum requirements. Thus, depending on the specific western culture, this supposed “freedom of choice” actually varies between minima and maxima.

Indeed, if “freedom of choice” is to be measured by the range between the minimum and maximum body covering, then, on the universal “covering scale”, the Western countries occupy an inferior position comparing to Polynesia, the Amazon region or Africa where toplessness or full nudity are culturally acceptable, along with all other types of clothing. At the same time, it places Iran in a superior position compared to Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan, where covering of the women’s faces is culturally mandatory in some places, or either highly widespread across the country. Thus, if this dubious standard for “freedom of choice” Overall, which is often applied to Iran, were to be applied universally to every country from a perspective of cultural universalism, then only societies which allow their members the covering range from full nudity to full coverage would be in the position of criticizing others because they have the widest range of choices, and every single objection about “freedom of choice” which Westerners are using against Iran may be used against the West as well.

Regarding violations of the ‘absolute’ mandatory minimums, it should be emphasized that laws against nudity are more strictly imposed in many Western countries than in Iran, resulting in tens times heavier fines and longer prison sentences (see #7). On the other hand, more recent Western trend includes introduction of legal mandatory maximums so people are being fined for face covering, or even for simple headwear. Accordingly, such laws have thus affected the Arab and the Afghan women, or even Tuareg men,[h5] whose personal choice is to wear it. The French and Belgian schools have banned headscarves arguing its a “religious symbol”, but such argument reverses itself when headscarf is being worn as non-religious traditional dress. Hence, given the fact that both Iran and the West have their own mandatory minimums, the ostensible claim that women in the west “have more choices” of covering is a non sequitur and a false claim, judged by the universal covering scale, if only because of the western mandatory maximum covering laws, which are nonexistent in Iran.

This bring us back to cultural relativism which is not only being distorted (see #6) but also saturated with double standards, like the fake cultural universalism. The basic principle of conforming to the larger society and respecting the practices of a local culture, called “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”, is frequently being misused as a quasi-argument for Western anti-veiling campaign, suggesting the dubious mandate that the Iranian women must remove their headscarves or chadors when visiting Western countries or allow Western women not to wear them inside Iran. This last unreasonable demand, ignores the fact that headscarf is also part of the Western tradition, so it isn’t considered impolite like being bare-headed in Iran, and its also hypocritical because Westerners don’t take off their clothes when visiting naked tribes (neither they ask them to do so). Conforming to local norms means avoiding practices seen as impolite and thus can be implied only for extreme nudity (or masking), which makes Iran as completely irrelevant in both cases.

The self-appointed status of being in a privileged position for criticizing others is based on another common myth, an illusion that the Western world is the “bastion of liberty” for all, foreign or not. Setting aside the issue of clothing, the West claims to be proudly flexible to all foreign cultural norms. This, of course, is far from the truth, since many foreigners in the Western countries do not have the “freedom of choice” due to the fact that many of their habits and practices are seen as rude, taboo, or even legally prohibited. Examples include animal dishes of Chinese national cuisine, explicit cartoons of Japanese manga art, Tibetan gestures and polyandrous marriages, Indian open defecation practices and so on. On the other hand, Westerners should avoid hugging in China, putting their feet on the table in Japan, kissing in India, etc.

In addition to the habit of being bare-headed in public, there are also other habits which are ‘normal’ for an average Westerner but impolite for an Iranian. Common examples include blowing one’s nose in public, and giving the thumbs-up gesture. The latter is the equivalent of showing the middle finger to someone in the West, and is considered very impolite. The expectation that millions of Iranians and billions of non-Western people must change their cultural norms in accordance with Western norms can be seen only as demanding a Eurocentric globalist utopia, and such attitudes is nothing but a thin veneer for aggressive political and cultural demagogy.

#9 Propaganda

Another aspect of the dominant narrative in the West is its role as a part of a general negative campaign of disinformation against Iran. Invoking the veiling ‘problem’ has been one of the mainstays of the Western anti-Iranian propaganda since the revolution of 1979 which continues to this date. Since the early days of the Iranian revolution the image of the Iranian women in the West has been influenced by the repeated representations of women clad in black chadors chanting slogans, thus serving as a strong visual element[i0] which fits perfectly into the typical orientalists’ stereotypes about the “oppressed Muslim women who demand freedom”.[65]

The Western stance toward the changes in Iran may be summarized by a headline from the British daily newspaper The Times published shortly after the 1979 victory, which declared confidently: “Post-revolutionary Iran isn’t place for a woman anymore”.[i1] Similar distorted representations have been exploited and used ceaselessly to manipulate the public opinion in the West toward Iran, especially women’s opinion (50% of population), and have been crucial in mobilizing the majority support for a potential military action against Iran.

Such misrepresentations escalated to a fever pitch in the early 1980s and late 2000s when the diplomatic relations between Iran and the West worsened and drumming for war with Iran intensified. An important and effective boost to this campaign of disinformation unleashed by the Western media was provided by cinema and literature, most notably the diasporic memoirs. The first wave of this aggressive disinformation campaign started in the 1980s by Betty Mahmoody, followed shortly by Sousan Azadi, Shamsi Assar, Freidoune Sahebjam, A. Rahmani, Cherry Mosteshar, Parvin Darabi and Marjane Satrapi. This was followed by the second wave starting in the 2000s chiefly due to the triumph of Azar Nafisi’s book, later followed by Ghazal Omid, Marina Nemat, Setaareh Shahbazz, Nastaran Kherad, Roxana Saberi, Homa Rouhi Sarlati, Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh. Non-Iranian writers like Kate Millett, Alison Wearing, Tammy Blenkush and Libby Fischer Hellmann also participated in this smear campain, as well as diasporic filmmakers like Cyrus Nowrasteh, Ghasem Ebrahimian, Shirin Etessam and Shirin Neshat.

Most of these authors were members of former privileged elite, and thus showed a strong inclination toward the Pahlavi dictatorship. Since they suffered acute social degradation, their works were highly biased against the revolutionary Iran, reflecting their own indignant rage, and serving as a form of revenge. Some of the same people even openly advocated a US led attack on Iran. By far the most bizarre thing with those “truthful” memoirs are the representations of niqab (face masks) on the covers of at least thirty different books, regardless of the fact that such Arabic clothing is completely alien for Iranian women (see #1).

masks propagandaImage 5. Tens of book covers falsely suggesting face covering in Iran

Equally bizarre phenomenon occurs when far-right Westerners participate in anti-veiling campaigns by invoking European traditional and Christian values, while forgetting that headscarves are part of the authentic costumes from Portugal to Russia and that Virgin Mary in all visual arts is dressed more like the Iranian women than the average Western woman.

The diasporic memoirs by women follow a similar pattern of storytelling clichés, starting with alleged oppression inside Iran and ending with heroic escape with indispensable symbolic of stripping headscarf as “gaining freedom”. “Unveiled” thus becomes synonymous with “modern” and equivalent to “civilized”. Ironically, the Western audiences regard these diaspora memoirists as impartial, truthful writers and film makers with honorable intentions, who reveal the “real Iran” for the world to see. In reality, however, these are self-serving, bitter and vindictive individuals think nothing of disparaging their own country and belittling their countrymen, doing their share to portray Iranians as primitive, ludicrous and violent. Consequently, their works are good commodities for the consumption of the Westerners who hanker after the veiled face of the real Iran. Thus, headscarf has manifested itself in the polar opposition between two parties, and is used as the evidence of the Iranian women’s subjugation along with claim that unveiling represents their liberation which is their prerogative. After all, in the West, the practice of veiling was represented as tantamount to imprisoning women; it was enforced by the male patriarchy and symbolized a dogmatic faith that the enlightened Europeans discarded in favor of a democratic and secular system of government.

The Western campaign of disinformation regarding veiling in Iran is perpetuated in the media by reports with suggestive negative allusions in their titles, such as, “Iran unveiled”, “Behind the veil”, and so on. Most disinformation about headscarf in the Western media follow a similar pattern, usually including alleged crackdowns of improper veiling by the (non-existent) ‘moral police’, reproduced afresh every few months in media headlines during some political negotiations. Such “news” are not only fake but also assume a naive uncritical audience. If any photograph of the arrest is produced as “evidence”, the article disregards all possibilities that other, real offenses, may have been committed, specially since the arrested woman is shown to be dressed normally. The misrepresentation of women in chadors, giving suggestions to fashionable girls, as “police imposing veiling law”, is disingenuous. The truth is that these women in chadors act as street activists and are made up mostly of women motivated by their own sociopsychological experiences which often stem from the fact that they have suffered horrendous abuse under the Pahlavi regime only for being veiled. They’re not empowered to enforce the law and their activism consists of sharing tips or even awarding women with flowers and gifts for correct answers to religious questions.[i8]

Recently such negative propaganda has found a new avenue of expression on the virtual social networks, with the most popular example being the Facebook campaign “My Stealthy Freedom” led by London-based journalist Masih Alinejad, an employee of the notorious US governmental propaganda machine Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). This campaign has been spread by the Western mass media outlets and it has attracted hundreds of thousands of deluded Westerners, blindly following classical hoaxes like twisted historical processes (see #3 & #4), distorted perceptions (see #6), legal manipulations (see #7) and especially alleged female “resistance” (see #5). Its main visual method includes cherry picking of photos featuring unveiled Iranian women in rural areas or nature (where dress-code isn’t even in effect for all practical purposes), usually taken without permission from photo-sharing networking services, and misrepresenting them as “women protesting against headscarf” along with shabby descriptions of “seeking freedom”. This foreign campaign has been ridiculed inside Iran, and as a response, the Iranians have started a parody counter-campaign called “Men’s Stealthy Freedom” where young men are posting their own half-naked photos in nature, thereby mocking the original campaign and pointing out its manipulations and double standards.

This trend shows tremendous wantonness among Westerners because very few of them have shown any effort to find the facts that not a single protest against the headscarf or chador has occurred in Iran, and among two thousand NGO organizations no one has invoked headscarf or chador as a problem.[60]

#10 Conclusions

Summing up last nine points (see #1-9), brings us back to people from introduction, namely Western “feminists”[j1] and “human rights activists”.[j2] Among many thousands of such ‘humanists’ from dozens of organizations, it takes an extraordinary luck to find even one who is familiar with above explained Iranian history, ethnography, politics and fashion trends.

Campaigns of disinformation resulting in misconceptions are being repeated even by so-called “experts” from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Freedom House, and serious factual errors can be found even in the academic literature.

Basically, their structural pyramid may be divided into three groups: propagandists who deliberately spread disinformation for political purposes, self-important Eurocentric bumblers deficient in skepticism and critical analysis, and benevolent but naive people who are easy targets for propaganda. Neighboring groups may sometimes overlap, but overall image still can be easily projected into the Medieval period when their society consisted of ruling swindlers, Crusader fanatics and ingenuous shepherds.

Nothing has really changed since then, and those equally dangerous fanatics are feeding their ego with an ideological illusion of “enlightenment” and by stereotyping others, while in fact they lack education, logical reasoning, critical thinking and fresh information. This presents a serious challenge, which Western society has yet to overcome.


Note: References are currently under construction (UC).

  • [1] Headscarf and concept of veiling aren’t Iranian inventions, not originated by Islam or by any of the current ethnic group in the Middle East, but long practiced by all of them (see Keddie, 2005, p. 66; Gholipour, 2008, p. 15). First veils are historically attested in ancient Sumeria and Dilmun as a complementary garment (see El Guindi, 1999, p. 13-14), but later it became exclusionary and privileging in Assyria, even regulated by social law. Veil was a status symbol enjoyed by upper-class and royal women, while law prohibited peasant women, slaves and prostitutes from wearing the veil and violators were punished (see Hoodfar, 1993, p. 6; El Guindi, 1999, p. 13-16; Heath, 2008, p. 252). After ancient Iranians conquered Assyrian Nineveh in 612 B.C. and Chaldean Babylon in 539 B.C., their ruling elite has adopted those Mesopotamian customs (see El Guindi, 1999, p. 3, 13-14). During the reign of ancient Iranian dynasties, veil was first exclusive to the wealthy, but gradually the practice spread and it became standard for modesty (see Fathi; Regan, 1985, p. 62). Later, after the Muslim Arabs conquered Sassanid Iran, early Muslims adopted veiling as a result of their exposure to the strong Iranian cultural influence (see Scarce, 1975, p. 4; Fathi; Regan, 1985, p. 62; Peck, 1992b; Hoodfar, 1993, p. 6; Heath, 2008, p. 252).
  • [2] Citation: “Some variation in the condition and habits of many women occurred with the growth of nomadism in the Muslim world from the eleventh century on, partly via Turkish and other invasions. In nomadic Seljuq and Mongol societies, women rarely veil. It seems that, at least for a time after they took power, nomadic groups often allowed women to go unveiled, even in town” (see Keddie, 2005, p. 66). Citation: “Turkic tribes who migrated to Iran between the tenth and sixteenth centuries led nomadic and pastoral lives, incompatible with veiling. Indigenous paintings show that tribal women did not wear the veil” (see Heath, 2008, p. 253). Citation: “Early European accounts and indigenous painting suggest that tribal women did not veil, and early Safavid miniatures are full of unveiled women. Italian travelers to Iran in those years wrote that women were shockingly exposed” (see Mitchell, 2011, p. 98).
  • [3] While all scholars agree veiling has became normative urban standard during Safavid reign, some attribute it to increasing religious influence (see Keddie, 2005, p. 66; Heath, 2008, p. 253), while others ascribe it to urbanization (see Mitchell, 2011, p. 98-99). Women in Iran’s urban centers wore the full veil already in the early sixteenth century (see Mitchell, 2011, p. 104).
  • [4] Citation: “Women seemed to be chiefly engaged in the cultivation of rice. They wore no veils” (see Floor, 2003, p. 268). Citation: “This involvement of women in agricultural operations meant that usually most of them were not veiled, because this would make them ineffective workers” (see Floor, 2003, p. 113). Citation: “As elsewhere in the Muslim world, the coverage of women varied according to region and social class: as a rule, tribal women were less covered than settled women, and urban women more so than rural women. By the early decades of the 20th century the most common outer garment of women in urban Iran was the chador” (see Chehabi, 2003, p. 204). Citation: “Throughout Islamic history, however, only part of the urban classes were veiled, while rural and nomadic women, who made up the majority of the population, were not. Veiling of some rural women, in imitation of middle-class town ways and as a sign of status and freedom from labor, appears to be overwhelmingly a recent phenomenon” (see Keddie, 2005, p. 66). Citation: “The practice of veiling did not spread to Iran’s rural and tribal women. And although tribal and rural women have their own, local, forms of head coverings, even in today’s Islamic Republic of Iran, they wear the veil only when they travel to cities” (see Heath, 2008, p. 253). Citation: “Peasant women wore the chador when they came to town” (see Bullock, 2002, p. 90).
  • [5] Basically, three different types of cloths that covers the face can be found in the Iranian World. First one is Arabian niqab which covers lower parts of face and can be found among Arabs in South-Western province of Khuzestan. Second one is battula, covering upper parts of face and its common only in the Persian Gulf area, mainly worn by Arabs in province of Hormozgan (probably originated in India). Third one includes the most extreme veils which cover all face like burqa, rudband or paranja with chachvan, but its restricted only in Afghanistan and Tajikistan which were part of Iranian Empire for most of their history. Western travelers in post-16th century Iran weren’t aware of local differences so their descriptions of women varies from “shockingly exposed” to “completely covered” (see Mitchell, 2011, p. 98-107).
  • [6] Citation: “One major problem for most urban women was that they simply lacked the sartorial culture of appearing in public without a bodily cover, and in any case it was very expensive for them at the time” (see Katouzian, 2003, p. 31; Ibid., 2006, p. 336). See also Nashat, 1983, p. 16; Paidar, 1995, p. 42-43. For lengthy discussion about textile crisis in 19/20th century and its effects, see Floor, 1999; Ibid., 2003
  • [7] Citation: “Society was ill prepared for a sudden ban on the time-honored chador, and coercion by the police was the inevitable result” (see Fatemi, 1989, p. 178). Citation: “The veil was a source of respect, virtue, protection, and pride. It was a symbol of passage from childhood into adulthood. It was convenient, feminine, honorable. By wearing it, they conformed to a recognizable and cherished set of beliefs and sanctions. These women valued and respected the veil” (see Milani, 1992, p. 35). Citation: “Bare heads had been considered signs of madness or rudeness, and headgear identified the person’s traditional or occupational ties” (see Abrahamian, 2008, p. 83-84).
  • [8] Astonishing fact is that Ahmad Kasravi, anti-clerical Pahlavist apologist educated at American University, in the same time acknowledges ancient Iranian origin of veil (see Fathi; Regan, 1985, p. 62) but ironically calls Iranian urban women to follow the example of the tribal and rural women (see Sultan-Qurraie, 2003, p. 128).
  • [9] Far more modest dress-code has existed in the West until 20th century, especially until 1960’s when new urban fashions were appeared in Paris and London, leading to a massive decrease of female body covering in Western cities. Consequently, long and wide skirts became associated with awkwardness. In Eastern Europe, ‘babushka’-type headscarf is associated with elderly women from villages, and rarely worn in cities. Historically, many Christian women in the Balkans were veiled until 1912, while later it mostly became limited to rural areas (see Scarce, 1975, p. 4).
  • [10] Citation: “Unlike many states in the region, Iran is not the product of imperial map-making” (see Abrahamian, 2008, p. 195).
  • [11] During the late 19th and early 20th century, practice of veiling was attacked by few Westernized members of the Iranian elite like Mirza Malkam Khan (educated in Paris) and Mirza Aqa Khan Kermani (lived in Istanbul and Europe), and also by Western-influenced poets like Mirzadeh Eshghi (educated in French institution) and Iraj Mirza (served as member of diplomatic mission in Europe), but they had little impact on the way most Iranian women dressed (see Milani, 1992, p. 27-33; Chehabi, 2003, p. 204-206; Heath, 2008, p. 253-254).
  • [12] See Abrahamian, 1982, p. 124, 156, 444, 472; Ashraf, 2006; Dabashi, 2007, p. 60; Abrahamian, 2008, p. 63-96; Zarei; Mokhtari Esfahani, 2009; Elling, 2013, p. 165-166
  • [13] Similar discourses were quite common even by other local nationalisms in the Middle East during the past century and today, as veiling was rejected by secular ‘modernists’ so those who opposed headscarf ascribed it to a different nationality from their own. While Iranian Pahlavists blamed Arabs, many Arabian nationalist claim veiling was imposed on them when they became subject to the Ottoman Turks, and Turkish nationalists have closed the circle by blaming Iranians or Arabs (see Keddie, 2005, p. 66). Citation: “Much debate and disagreement surround the origins of veiling. Many have argued with unfounded conviction and passion about the origin of veiling. Some assign it to an aristocratic Zoroastrian habit, while others think that Islam first imposed and then perpetuated the practice. For the fact remains that veiling, whether or not it originated in Iran, accompanied the Islamic faith, or came earlier, still holds an extraordinary appeal for many Iranians” (see Milani, 1992, p. 20).
  • [14] More extensive analysis exists for Median and Achaemenid (see Shahbazi, 1992; Jalilian; Fatemi, 2011), Parthian Arsacid (see Kawami, 1992) and Sassanid period (see Nashat, 1983, p. 8-11; Gheiby, 1990; Peck, 1992a; Paidar, 1995, p. 31; El Guindi, 1999, p. xvi, 13-14).
  • [15] Precise etymology of the word chador (literally “tent”) is unknown but its certainly of Persian origin, and probably related to Sanskrit word chattra (literally “parasol”). In the Middle Persian texts (originally pre-Islamic Sassanid), chador is mentioned in 10th-century Zoroastrian legal text called Rivayat i Hemid i Ashawahishtan, and also in the Madayan i Yoisht i Friyan which is based on lost Avestan texts (cf. Yt. 5.81-83). In both cases it has been described as a female head dress worn by Zoroas­trian women. Chador can be found even in epic poem Shahnameh, where its worn by queen Shirin (see Gheiby, 1990). The most earliest artistic representation of chador is attested on the Ergili sculptures and the Satrap sarcophagus from Achaemenid period (see Shahbazi, 1992).
  • [16] Citation: “Muslim women, according to the Quran, should cover themselves modestly. The Quran itself discusses veiling in general terms and does not establish the limits and details of women’s covering” (see Milani, 1992, p. 20-21). Citation: “Laws, including those concerning the veil, are found not in the Koran but in later traditions – some of them with non-Muslim antecedents” (see Abrahamian, 1993, p. 15). Citation: “Contrary to belief, veiling is nowhere specifically recommended or even discussed in the Quran. At the heart of the Quranic position on the question of the veil is the interpretation of two verses (Surah al-Nur, verses 30-31) which recommend that women cover their bosoms and jewellery. This has come to mean that women should cover themselves. Another verse recommends to the wives of the Prophet to wrap their cloaks tightly around their bodies, so as to be recognized and not be bothered or molested in public (Surah al-Ahzab, verse 59). Modern commentators have rationalized that since the behavior of the wives of the Prophet is to be emulated, then all women should adopt this form of dress” (see Hoodfar, 1993, p. 6). Citation: “But the fact must be emphasized that neither in the Quran nor in a reliable Hadith can be found any explicit ordinance promulgated by the Prophet Muhammad ordering either Muslim women in general or his own wives to veil themselves” (see El Guindi, 1999, p. 152).
  • [17] Citation: “The ambiguity of meaning built into the Quranic verse allows different readings with far-reaching implications. The great disparities of religiously acceptable clothing in the Islamic World at large best prove the viability and possibility of such varying interpretations. Further more, Iranians have insisted upon the concept of ‘ijtehad’ (the formulation of new solutions to new problems facing the Islamic community). This concept allows ample space for reorientation, adaptation, and even innovation” (see Milani, 1992, p. 21). Citation: “Although in Western literature the veil and veiling are often presented as a unified and static practice that has not changed for more then a thousand years, the veil has been varied and has been subject to changing fashions throughout past and present history” (see Hoodfar, 1993, p. 7). For example, Armenian and Jewish women living inside Greater Iran traditionally also wore headscarves and did not cover their faces (see Paidar, 1995, p. 32). On the other hand, Muslim women in Malaysia and Indonesia never worn a headscarves on a wider scale (see Scarce, 1975, p. 4). History shows us even extreme examples in West Africa and among Nuba people in Kurdufan where Muslim women traditionally wore colorful headgear but went topless. Citation: “The Islamic criteria of dress do not necessarily imply the chador, which is merely the traditional way of fulfilling those criteria in Iran” (see Algar, 2001, p. 83). Also, veiling should be distinguished from segregation of the sexes known as ‘purdah’. There is no logically necessary connection between those two, considering the idea that women can wear a veil and still be active and have access to a common public sphere with men, i.e. veiling without purdah (see Chehabi, 2003, p. 203). See also Gholipour, 2008, p. 10-11
  • [18] Citation: “When the Muslim Arabs conquered Persia in 642, she became part of the large Arab empire. Although Arabic became the language of religion and administration and influenced the Persian language in alphabet and vocabulary, the Arabs were to be heavily indebted to Persia’s long civilized tradition. When Baghdad became the capital of the Arab empire in 762, Persians dominated the administrative and military staff and Persian social customs and fashions were followed” (see Scarce, 1975, p. 4). Citation: “When the Muslims conquered Iran, they associated with the Iranians and acquired many of their customs. This was especially true during the Abbasid Caliphate when many of the Caliphs’ ministers and associates were Iranian. The result was that the Arabs adopted the custom of wearing the chador and veil. So gradually the custom of veiling women spread among the Arabs and other Muslims (see: Fathi; Regan, 1985, p. 62). Citation: “During the Omayyad caliphate dress for both men and women thus seems to have been derived in large part from the fashions of Sasanian and post-Sasanian Persia and Central Asia, though new elements had already appeared, for example, trousers and a complex arrangement of skirts worn by women” (see Peck, 1992b). Citation: “The practice of veiling of women is pre-Islamic and originates in non-Arab Middle Eastern and Mediterranean societies (Greco-Roman, pre-Islamic Iranian and Byzantine empires). Muslims adopted the veil from conquered peoples” (see Hoodfar, 1993, p. 6). Citation: “Some Iranians commonly believe that veiling began with the Islamic conquest of Iran in 637 C.E. The veil, however, goes back to the Persian Empire, from the Achaemenid (ca. 500–330 B.C.E.) through the Sassanid (226–651 C.E.) dynasties. Contrary to common beliefs, Islam did not invent the veil, nor was it compatible with Arab lifestyles. Early Muslims adopted veiling as a result of their exposure to the cultures they conquered” (see Heath, 2008, p. 252).
  • [19] Citation: “Reza Shah Pahlavi began to wipe out many of the social and cultural elements associated with the Qajar dynasty. These were considered reactionary and harmful to the development of a modern Iran based on the Western model. Elements of the Islamic religion that were regarded as fanatical were targeted, and unfortunately, the Ta’ziyeh was considered to be one of those elements. The result was that this form of drama was banned, and the Takiyeh Dowlat, a truly magnificent playhouse, was razed to the ground. In addition the Ta’ziyeh troupes were forced to take refuge in small cities and villages far from the capital and far from the reach of the government’s police force” (see Malekpour, 2004, p. 12). Citation: “In addition to brutality, the country was subjected at the same time to immense cultural degradation, destruction, and plunder. Irreparable damage was wreaked on Iran’s architectural heritage. C. Van H. Engert, the American chargé d’affaires, reported the demolition of as many as 30,000 old houses in Tehran alone on the orders of Reza Shah, and their replacement with new buildings. This wanton and criminal destruction of Iran’s cultural heritage was called modernization and progress” (see Majd, 2001, p. 8). Citation: “To explain such a cultural calamity, Charles Calmer Hart (the American minister in Tehran) offered that ‘when an illiterate son of an equally illiterate peasant was made the absolute dictator of Persia by the British, what else could be expected?'” (see Majd, 2001, p. 163). See also Grigor, 2004
  • [20] See Ashraf, 2006; Zarei; Mokhtari Esfahani, 2009
  • [21] See Strategies for promotion of chastity (Persian) on the official website of Iranian Majlis (dated 04/05/1384 AP, available online). Veil is praised by invoking both religious principles and ancient civilization (para. 15), and also with arguments of strengthening national identity as well as the cultural and political independence (para. 14). Headscarf has been publicly promoted by using ancient reliefs from Persepolis (online image). This move immediately provoked quasi-patriotic immigration, with one especially ridiculous article published in state-owned France24 (dated 13/04/2015) where author describes it as a “mistake” and calls on (unnamed) experts and claims “thousands of sculptures from Achaemenid era show women who are essentially naked”. There are actually only few dozen of such sculptures and all are veiled (see Scarce, 1975, p. 4; Shahbazi, 1992; Jalilian; Fatemi, 2011). To illustrate his bizarre claim, France24’s author is presenting an image of prehistorical statue of a naked woman created between 6000 or 7000 B.C., five thousand years before Iranian tribes even entered today’s Iran from Central Asia. Equally bizarre claim can be found in one of Ervand Abrahamian’s book, where there’s a rumor about arresting Iranian journalist for noting that the veil pre-dated Islam and originated instead in ancient civilizations (see Abrahamian, 2008, p. 191). See also governmental program on Press TV which presents headscarves as ancient legacy (see PressTV, dated 17/08/2015, available online).
  • [22] Citation: “An emblem now of progress, then of backwardness, a badge now of nationalism, then of domination, a symbol of purity, then of corruption, the veil has accommodated itself to a puzzling diversity of personal and political ideologies” (see Milani, 1992, p. 19). Citation: “I believe its implementation would have been impossible had it not been for the attraction the veil held for many. Not only did many refuse to take a firm stand against veiling in the early stages of its implementation; on the contrary, they reprimanded and condemned those who openly objected to it. In the name of national independence” (see Milani, 1992, p. 37). Citation: “But with the Revolution, the desire to raise the status of the poor and the traditionalist and the necessity to create overt symbols of resistance to Pahlavi values brought all forms of hijab including the chador back into popularity. But contrary to some suggestions, the adoption of hijab by some women during the Revolution was not necessarily related to their class background. Women from different classes wore hijab for different reasons. While some did so because it symbolized their protest against the treatment of women as sex-objects, other women wore it as a religious duty” (see Paidar, 1995, p. 215). See also Ramezani, 2008; ibid., 2010
  • [23] Citation: “After 1935, high-ranking officials risked dismissal unless they brought their wives unveiled to office parties. And low-ranking government employees, such as road sweepers, risked fines unless they paraded their wives unveiled through the main streets. Not surprisingly, many considered this to be not women’s emancipation but police repression” (see Abrahamian, 1982, p. 144). Citation: “Eventually, in 1936, all women, regardless of age, personal and religious inclinations, or circumstances, were ordered out of their veils. The message was clear and nonnegotiable: no veiled woman was allowed on the streets of Tehran or of any provincial city. January 7, 1936, when unveiling became a royal decree, was considered such an important day that thereafter it was celebrated as Women’s Day, that is, the day of ‘liberation’ for women. After the institution of the Islamic Republic, the same day was labeled ‘the day of shame’, the day in which allegedly corrupt Western values and norms were imposed forcefully and brutally upon Muslim women. On this day Iran became the first Muslim country to outlaw the veiling of women” (see Milani, 1992, p. 34). Citation: “In 1936, the Shah’s father, as part of his plan to modernize Iran, decided to outlaw the veil and passed a law that made it illegal for women to be in the street wearing the veil (chador) or any other kind of head covering except a European hat” (see Hoodfar, 1993, p. 10). Citation: “The unveiling of women eventually came about in 1936, and it turned out to be compulsory. In January, Reza Shah who had recently returned from a visit to Turkey, issued a decree outlawing the veil” (see Paidar, 1995, p. 106). Citation: “What is more, he now banned outright the full-length chadour from all public places: from streets, government offices, cinemas, public baths, city buses, and even street carriages. He also ordered ordinary citizens to bring their wives to public functions without head coverings. Even road-sweepers, shopkeepers, and carriage drivers were compelled to do so” (see Abrahamian, 2008, p. 95). Citation: “Reza Shah imposed European dress on the population. In 1936 forcibly abolished the wearing of the veil” (see Curtis; Hooglund, 2008, p. 28). Note: sources mention both 1935 and 1936 as year of the abolition of veiling (see Fathi, 1985, p. 7, 57, 61, 107-109). See also Abrahamian, 1993, p. 20; Majd, 2001, p. 209-213; Ramezani, 2008; ibid., 2010
  • [24] Citation: “Reza Shah also implemented a new dress code. He outlawed tribal and traditional clothes as well as the fez-like headgear. All adult males, with the exception of state ‘registered’ clergymen, had to wear Western-style trousers and coat, as well as a front-rimmed hat known as the Pahlavi cap” (see Abrahamian, 2008, p. 83). Citation: “Reza Shah’s campaign to force Muslim women to discard the veil began in earnest in the summer of 1934 with the campaign to force Persian men to discard the kolah, the traditional Persian head covering, in favor of the ‘European’ hat” (see Majd, 2001, p. 209). Citation: “At the beginning of Riza Shah’s rule a hat fashioned after his own military cap (which had been adapted from the French military and police cap) came into vogue among politicians and state officials, and was compulsory among military officers. This was later made compulsory for all men, and the compulsion was, on the whole, taken with good humor. The officially registered and recognized ‘ulama and preachers could still wear the turban. Mukhbir al-Saltana, the previous prime minister, had occasional private audiences with the Shah. On an occasion following the change of hats, the Shah revealed his real motive for the compulsory order to Iranian men to wear the European bowler hat: In an audience, the Shah took my [bowler] hat off and said, Now what do you think of this. I said it certainly protects one from the sun and rain, but that [Pahlavi] hat which we had before had a better name. Agitated, His Majesty paced up and down and said, All I am trying to do is for us to look like [the Europeans] so they would not laugh at us. This explains the most important motive for the compulsory removal of women’s chadurs as well as scarves a few months later” (see Katouzian, 2003, p. 30; Ibid., 2004, p. 33-34; Ibid., 2006, p. 336).
  • [25] Citation: “In some instances the Shah’s agenda for allowing women to participate in social activities through unveiling even achieved the opposite result, and had unanticipated consequences bordering on perverse effects” (see Chehabi, 2003, p. 215). Citation: “Changing the dress code and Europeanizing women and men was not all there is to it: the idea was to desegregate society, to de-Islamize the system. This resulted in a catastrophic dislocation of people’s lives that was not commensurate with socioeconomic progress. There was no fit between the cultural transformations and the socioeconomic reality of Iran” (see El Guindi, 1999, p. 175). Citation: “Women, too, had been victims of the Shah’s regime and were to be respected and valued as a result. Ayatollah Khomeini said in countless interviews that women were valued above men in Islam, and demonstrators enacted his words. Women, who in the past could not walk in the streets on their own without being accosted or physically molested, were now able to move about freely. They now participated in huge mixed demonstrations when before they had dreaded using mixed public transport. To a lot of women, the most liberating experience of the Revolution was the sense of freedom to mix with men without being harassed. Women were now addressed as ‘sisters’ and treated as such. Verbal and physical abuse of women diminished overnight. The same male fellow student or colleague who had made sexual insinuations in the past now lowered his gaze and spoke in a non-sexual language. Eye witness accounts of mixed demonstrations reported an enormous sense of mutual respect and solidarity amongst male and female participants. The question of the sexual division of responsibility did not come in the way of male-female solidarity against the Shah. Women, on the whole, were left free to decide which aspect of the struggle they wanted to take up. It was possible to make choices” (see Paidar, 1995, p. 218). Citation: “Unveiling, in some cases, effectively undermined education. Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi implemented a number of reforms in the 1960s and 1970s. Some, like his father’s, benefited women. But his policies were often ill-conceived and improperly implemented, leading to uneven economic development, social disparity, and growing gaps between rich and poor. He carried out his reforms without taking into consideration people’s sentiments and building national consensus. Some questioned his modernization program, which was accompanied by Westernization” (see Heath, 2008, p. 256).
  • [26] Citation: “…and banning the long veil (chador), thereby forcing women to go naked into the streets” (see Abrahamian, 1993, p. 20). Citation: “Forced unveiling of women in Iran is comparable to the shock that Westerners would experience if women of all ages were forced to go topless in public” (see El Guindi, 1999, p. 130). Citation: “To ordinary women appearing in public without their cover was tantamount to nakedness” (see El Guindi, 1999, p. 174). Citation: “Women were ordered to take off their chadurs, and were not allowed to wear a scarf instead. The effect for most women – especially for those over the age of forty – was as if in 1936, European women had been suddenly ordered to go topless in the streets” (see Katouzian, 2003, p. 30; Ibid., 2004, p. 34; Ibid., 2006, p. 336).
  • [27] In describing this crisis, the British consul tried to place it within the larger picture: “Next to their daily bread, what affects the people most widely is what touches the code of social habit that, in Islam, is endorsed by religion. Among Muslims the Iranians are not a fanatical people. The unveiling of women inaugurated in the preceding year attacks the people’s social conservatism as much as their religious prejudice. Above all, like conscription, it symbolizes the steady penetration into their daily lives of an influence that brings with it more outside interference, more taxation. But one can easily exaggerate the popular effect of unveiling; it is a revolution for the well-to-do of the towns, but lower down the scale, where women perform outdoor manual labour, its effects both on habit and on the family budget diminish until among the tribal folk of all degrees they are comparatively slight. Hence resistance among the greater part of the people has been passive, and, where existing, has manifested itself in reluctance of the older generation to go abroad in the streets. It is one thing to forbid women to veil; it is another thing to make them mingle freely with men” (see Abrahamian, 2008, p. 95).
  • [28] Citation: “Women were beaten, their chadors and headscarves torn off, and even their homes forcibly searched” (see Fatemi, 1989, p. 178). Citation: “Unveiling was to be fully implemented. Law enforcement agencies were directed to tear women’s veils from their bodies” (see Milani, 1992, p. 34). Citation: “The police had strict orders to pull off and tear up any scarf or chador worn in public. This had grievous consequences for the majority of women who were socialized to see the veil and veiling as legitimate and the only acceptable way of dressing” (see Hoodfar, 1993, p. 10). Citation: “Reza Shah’s decree forbade women to appear on the streets in chador and scarf, and ordered the police to remove these from any woman wearing them. A European wife of an Iranian man witnessed the police on the streets of Tehran tearing scarves from the women’s heads and handing them back in ribbons to their owners” (see Paidar, 1995, p. 107). Citation: “In his Westernizing crusade, Reza Shah banned the veil in 1936, and the police were arresting women who wore the veil and forcibly removing it” (see El Guindi, 1999, p. 174). Citation: “Scarves were being torn off women’s heads by the police in the streets and alleys” (see Katouzian, 2003, p. 31; Ibid., 2004, p. 336; Ibid., 2006, p. 34). Citation: “Between January 1936 and the monarch’s abdication in 1941, the police and Gendarmerie used physical force to enforce the ban, thus violating the innermost private sphere of close to half the population” (see Chehabi, 2003, p. 203). Citation: “They (police) frequently assaulted women physically and tore off their scarves or chadors, encouraged perhaps by the promotion in March 1936 of General Rokneddin Mokhtar, a man known for his ruthlessness, to head of the Iranian police” (see Chehabi, 2003, p. 212-213). Citation: “British consuls reported that those who failed to do so were summoned to police stations” (see Abrahamian, 2008, p. 95). Citation: “Civil servants were required to appear for their paychecks with their unveiled wives, and gendarmes went through the streets tearing the illegal garments off of unsuspecting women” (see Beeman, 2008, p. 108).
  • [29] Citation: “For many women, it was such an embarrassing situation that they just stayed home. The de-veiling law and its harsh enforcement pushed the women to stay home and beg their male relatives and friends’ husbands and sons to perform public tasks women normally carried out themselves” (see Hoodfar, 1993, p. 10). Citation: “Many women simply stopped going out, sneaking out only once a week to go to the public baths across the flat roofs that connected the houses in most Tehran districts at the time” (see Katouzian, 2003, p. 31; Ibid., 2004, p. 337; Ibid., 2006, p. 34). Citation: “In the face of harassment by police, many women stayed at home” (see Chehabi, 2003, p. 215).
  • [30] Citation: “There was much social and cultural violence and some suicides” (see Katouzian, 2003, p. 31; Ibid., 2004, p. 336; Ibid., 2006, p. 34). Citation: “The wife of one governor committed suicide” (see Abrahamian, 2008, p. 95). UC
  • [31] Citation: “Suddenly in the summer of 1935 the Shah ordered all men to wear the bowler hat, which was European par excellence, and which no one apart from a few had even seen before. There was revulsion, and the non-violent resistance in Mashad was put down by bloodshed, followed by the execution of Asadi, the trustee of Imam Riza’s shrine, an office which was in the Shah’s gift (see Katouzian, 2003, p. 29-30; Ibid., 2004, p. 33; Ibid., 2006, p. 335-336). Citation: “The following day troops went into position all over the city, and in the late evening attacked the mosque and put an end to the whole affair amid much bloodshed. The following day the dead were buried in mass graves and most senior ulema in the city were arrested and exiled from Mashad. The state produced trumped-up charges to make a scapegoat out of Mohammad-Vali Asadi, the administrator of the shrine, who was executed a few months later” (see Chehabi, 2003, p. 209). Citation: “The situation changed drastically on the third day, however, as army reinforcements arrived from Azerbaijan and promptly moved to clear the shrine. In the subsequent confrontation, nearly two hundred suffered serious injuries, and over one hundred, including many women and children, lost their lives. In the following months, the shrine custodian and three soldiers who had refused to shoot were executed” (see Abrahamian, 1982, p. 152; Ibid., 2008, p. 94). Citation: “A riot in Mashhad against the new dress code, which also demanded Western dress for men, was cruelly put down by armed troops, who actually violated the sacred shrine of Imam Reza” (see Beeman, 2008, p. 108). Citation: “The massacre that took place in and near the holy shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhad from July 12 to 14, 1935, was one of the bloodiest and most brutal in Iran’s history. The only other remotely comparable incident was the suppression of the protests of June 5–8, 1963, when troops killed many protesters. The Mashhad massacre was especially significant because the outrage took place at a sacred shrine of the Shia faith. As Hornibrook reported, machine gun fire had been directed at the protesters and pilgrims, resulting in a frightful loss of life. Hornibrook then provides an excerpt from the British report: ‘One hundred and twenty-eight dead have been buried in trenches by the military authorities. The number ofwounded is not less than two or three hundred. Five hundred and four persons are now confined in military barracks, of whom two hundred are wounded. In the civil jail three hundred and eleven are confined and of this number twenty-eight are wounded. Prisoners in the barracks are flogged daily in groups of thirty. Two officers and eighteen soldiers were killed and fourteen men were wounded'” (see Majd, 2001, p. 209, 217-218). Citation: “A book published in Iran in 1982, Qiyam-e Gohar Shad (Gohar Shad Uprising), claims that more then two thousand (and up to five thousand) people were killed and fifteen hundred taken captive in the shrine city of Mashhad alone due to the unveiling act” (see Milani, 1992, p. 35-36). See also Ramezani, 2008
  • [32] Citation: “In secularist Turkey the women’s veil had not been the subject of sartorial rules; the men’s fez was. John Norton observes that generally the veil was discouraged and in some places prohibited, but Turkey avoided an outright ban on the veil, the measure that the Shah took in Iran” (see El Guindi, 1999, p. 130). Citation: “Reza Shah’s ban on veiling gave rise to considerable resentment and greatly contributed to his unpopularity. The violence with which unveiling was imposed on recalcitrant women had more in common with Bolshevik methods in Central Asia than with Atatürk’s Turkey, where the veil was left to wither away” (see Chehabi, 2003, p. 214-215). Citation: “There was never any forced unveiling in Turkey. Atatürk discouraged veiling, but it was banned only for women in the public sector, such as teachers and government employees. While some municipalities issued ordinances banning veiling, physical force was not used on Turkish women” (see Chehabi, 2003, p. 203). Citation: “Here is an example of the important distinction between dictatorship, even autocracy, and arbitrary rule. For it is very difficult to imagine that even Hitler’s or Stalin’s regime would have suddenly ordered all men to wear top hats (let alone the Chinese hat) from the next day” (see Katouzian, 2003, p. 30; Ibid., 2004, p. 33).
  • [33] For basic development of the women’s movement in Iran, see Paidar, 1995, p. 30-77. Contrary to popular Western stereotypes about ‘women imprisoned in houses’, during the late 19th and early 20th century, many young unmarried Iranian women went to carpet weaving workshops, and equivalent activity in many ways to attending school because attending those workshops gave the young women a legitimate reason to move about the city and socialize with women outside their kin and immediate neighbors. Carpet weaving was a readily marketable skill which enabled them to earn independent income. In the same time, in search of employment many men migrated to large cities or worked in nearby places hours away from their homes, leaving more household responsibilities to their wives. Even urban women frequently attended the mosque for prayer, other religious ceremonies, or simply for some peace and quiet or socializing with other women. They would periodically organize and play a collective visit to various shrines across town, and the legitimacy of this social institution was so strong that even the strictest husbands and fathers would not oppose women’s participation in these visits (see Hoodfar, 1993, p. 10). Iranian women also actively participated in politics and there are few interesting occasions related to the veil. By threatening to drop the veil and put on male clothing, women have at times manipulated men to comply with their wishes. One such example can be drawn from the ‘Tobacco Movement’ of the late 19th century in Iran. In a meeting on devising resistance strategies against the tobacco monopoly and concessions given to Britain by the Iranian government, men expressed reluctance to engage in radical political action. Observing the men’s hesitation, women nationalist who were participated in the meeting raised their voices and threatened that if the men failed to protect their country and its women and children, then the women had no alternative but to drop their veil and go to war themselves (see Hoodfar, 1993, p. 7). In November 1911, Russians occupied northern coastal cities and along with Britain delivered a ultimatum to Iran, and threatened to occupy Tehran without further ado unless demands were met within 48 hours. Three hundred Iranian women marched into the public galleries with pistols hidden under their long veils, and threatened to shoot any deputy willing to submit to the ultimatum (see Abrahamian, 1982, p. 109; Milani, 1992, p. 28; Paidar, 1995, p. 58).
  • [34] Citation: “Many independent women became dependent on men, while those who did not have a male in the household suffered most because they had to beg favors from their neighbors” (see Hoodfar, 1993, p. 10). Citation: “It is clear that in the process women have lost much of their traditional independence for the extremely dubious goal of wearing European outfits. One can effectively argue that such outfits, in the existing social context, contributed to the exclusion of women of popular classes and pushed them toward seclusion, rather then laying the ground for their liberation. The de-veiling law caused many moderate families to resist allowing their daughters to attend school because of the social implication of not wearing a scarf in public. Furthermore, women became even more dependent on men since they now had to ask for men’s collaboration in order to perform activities they had previously performed independently. This gave men a degree of control over women that they had never before possessed” (see Hoodfar, 1993, p. 11).
  • [35] Citation: “He (Mohammad Reza Pahlavi) formally recognized the fact that the police no longer enforced the ban on the veil” (see Abrahamian, 1982, p. 184). Citation: “The former (Mohammad Reza Pahlavi) promised to relax his father’s secular policies and lift the prohibition against the veil” (see Abrahamian, 1993, p. 8). Citation: “Eventually rules of dress code were relaxed, and after Reza Shah’s abdication in 1941 the compulsory element in the policy of unveiling was abandoned, though the policy remained intact throughout the Pahlavi era” (see El Guindi, 1999, p. 174-175).
  • [36] Citation: “The Resurgence party (pro-Shah single-party) also discouraged women from wearing the chador on university campuses” (see Abrahamian, 1982, p. 444). Citation: “Wearing the chador remained illegal, although the government eventually relaxed the enforcement of the de-veiling law. In the official state ideology, the veil remained a symbol of backwardness, despite the fact that the majority of women in the urban centers continued to observe various degrees of hijab. The government, through its discriminatory policies, effectively denied veiled women access to employment in the government sector, which is the single most important national employer, particularly of women. The practice of excluding veiled women hit them particularly hard as they had few other options for employment. This discrimination was bluntly indicated in the policies covering the use of social facilities, such as clubs for civil servants provided by most government agencies or even private hotels and some restaurants, which denied service to women who observed the hijab. This undemocratic exclusion was a major source of veiled women’s frustration” (see Hoodfar, 1993, p. 11). Citation: “Between 1941 and 1979 wearing hijab was no longer an offence, but it was a real hindrance to climbing the social ladder, a badge of backwardness and a marker of class. A headscarf, let alone the chador, prejudiced the chances of advancement in work and society not only of working women but also of men, who were increasingly expected to appear with their wives at social functions. Fashionable hotels and restaurants refused to admit women with chador, schools and universities actively discouraged the chador, although the headscarf was tolerated. It was common to see girls from traditional families, who had to leave home with the chador, arriving at school without it and then putting it on again on the way home” (see El Guindi, 1999, p. 175). Mohammad Reza Pahlavi implemented comprehensive measures for reducing veiling, including extensive indoctrination by public education and state media. Women were prohibited to veil themselves in ministries and government agencies, social services such as welfare and education, national airlines, factories, buses, cinemas, stores, libraries, and veiling in general was highly discouraged in public (see Ramezani, 2008).
  • [37] Citation: “An emblem now of progress, then of backwardness” (see Milani, 1992, p. 19). Citation: “On the issue of hijab, too, the majority public opinion changed from seeing the hijab as a sign of backwardness to considering it the sign of social value for women. When feelings towards the adoption of Western values changed during the 1970s and more and more women turned to Islamic values, the chador was still considered traditional and the new Islamic women turned to a more modern form of hijab, that is, headscarves and loose dresses and trousers. The name hijab, meaning modest clothes for women, became popular then” (see Paidar, 1995, p. 214-215). Citation: “The old meaning of hiab was changing. While in the past it used to signify lack of access and inhibition for women, it was now being conceived of as enabling and empowering. It was felt as enabling because it allowed access to public spheres where access by women had always been accompanied by sexual harassment and humiliation, such as walking on the street, using public transport or participating in mixed demonstrations; and it was felt as empowering because it portrayed women as free, non-sexual, politically aware, and in solidarity with the Revolution. A minority of secular women rejected wearing hijab under any circumstances, but many others chose to wear it in the revolutionary context because of its new meanings” (see Paidar, 1995, p. 215). Citation: “After Reza Shah banned the chador in 1936, veiling came to be perceived among the elite and secular middle-class women, who were minority among female Iranians, as symbol of oppression. Before the Revolution, Iranian society already was polarized between the values of the majority of women and those of a minority who embraced American and European feminist values” (see Curtis; Hooglund, 2008, p. 116).
  • [38] For instance, by the mid-1930s (after 10 years of Reza Shah’s reign and before his arbitrary decree), only four thousand out of 6.5 million Iranian women ventured into public places without veils, despite of decade long public encouraging (see Abrahamian, 2008, p. 84, 94). These four thousand were almost all in Tehran, consisting mainly of Western-educated daughters of the upper class, foreign wives of recent returnees from Europe, and middle-class women from the religious minorities (see Abrahamian, 2008, p. 84). Citation: “The result was that, apart from the modern middle-class women, almost all women put on their chadurs again after Reza Shah’s abdication in 1941” (see Katouzian, 2003, p. 31; Ibid., 2004, p. 337; Ibid., 2006, p. 34). Citation: “Just as in other domains, Reza Shah’s departure from the throne in 1941 and the socio-political liberalization that followed put an end to sartorial repression, and many Iranians spontaneously went back to wearing their traditional clothes, especially women” (see Chehabi, 2003, p. 215). See also Ramezani, 2008. Citation: “In the official state ideology (of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi), the veil remained a symbol of backwardness, despite the fact that the majority of women, particularly those from low and moderate income groups and the women of the traditional middle classes in the urban centers continued to observe various degrees of hijab” (see Hoodfar, 1993, p. 11).
  • [39] There’s a widespread slander about “women living under men’s laws”, although such statements lack any factual basis in the case of Iran considering all legislative bills related to women’s rights and family laws have been proposed by female parliamentarians and public activists. Especially remarkable is participation of mujtahidahs (see Künkler; Fazaeli, 2012, p. 150-152), female theologians and jurists serving as the highest religious authority and often called ‘female ayatollahs’. In the case of modern Iran, there are more than 100 women, mostly daughters and wives of influential scholars, who made a name for themselves in fields of Islamic learning, among them dozens who received the mujtahid rank (see Künkler; Fazaeli, 2012, p. 127-128). Any equivalent is unseen in the Western World and it’s history. When journalist for The Guardian asked Khomeini about future of women’s dress-code in Aban 1357 AP (November 1978), he emphasized in an interview that women would be free to choose their own clothing within the framework of decency (see Ramezani, 2010).
  • [40] Citation: “Ayatollah Khomeini, I think in the last public address that he gave before leaving Tehran to return to Qom, in a speech that touched on many subjects, said ‘Now that we have in Iran an Islamic government, women should observe Islamic criteria of dress, particularly those that work in the ministries’. There are two things to be noticed. First, this was a recommendation. Secondly, it was directed particularly at women in government service. It was interpreted willfully as a command to be enforced by coercive means if necessary and as meaning that all Iranian women must immediately cover themselves with the chador. The Islamic criteria of dress do not necessarily imply the chador, which is merely the traditional way of fulfilling those criteria in Iran” (see Algar, 2001, p. 83). UC
  • [41] Citation: “Mr. Bazargan, then prime minister, announced that the left-wing troublemakers, corrupt royalists, and counterrevolutionary elements had distorted the ayatollah’s statement. He emphatically assured women that there would be no compulsory veiling and that, in fact, the ayatollah velieved in guiding rather then forcing women” (see Milani, 1992, p. 37). Citation: “Seizing upon this distorted series of sentences in the speech of Ayatollah Khomeini, a weird alliance of people organized a series of demonstrations in Tehran. On the one hand there were the leftists, who, like most people who talk about equality, have a very elitist mentality. They, seeing their lack of support among the working class in Iran, have tried to seize upon a number of marginal issues and build them up as vehicles for their own attempts to gain power. One such vehicle was the women’s demonstrations. Those taking part in the demonstrations were the upper echelons of Tehran society” (see Algar, 2001, p. 83-84). Citation: “They were not supported by secular and leftist organizations that had, in principle, favored women’s rights and social advancement. In the name of revolutionary unity, these organizations viewed women’s protests as diversionary and chose not to support them. Without the support of men and secular political organizations, they could not succeed” (see Heath, 2008, p. 259). Demonstrations were led by Kate Millett (see Algar, 2001, p. 83-84), psychotic American activist invited to Tehran by a Trotskyist group (see Naficy, 2012, p. 106), whose book Going to Iran from 1982 popularized this event (see Hoodfar, 1993, p. 12-13). Millett, along with Sophie Keir, traveled to Iran and carried motion-picture cameras with them, interviewed few participants, and in a cooperation with French Marxist-feminist group Psychanalyse et Politique produced a twelve-minute ‘documentary’ of the women’s march with Persian and French voice-over narration, titled Iran’s Women’s Liberation Movement Begins (see Naficy, 2012, p. 106-108). This footage is still circulating widely on the Internet (along with photos by Hengameh Golestan) and its used for propaganda by leftists and even monarchists, despite the fact that most organizators were actually Marxists and opposed the Shah (see Naficy, 2012, p. 106). Farzaneh Milani claims that decision in 1984 later evoked only dispersed reactions and disorganized demonstrations (see Milani, 1992, p. 37-38), but without providing any evidence like names, organizations, photos, references, etc. She also claims that reveiling decision is partly result of the “consolidation of clerical power” (see Milani, 1992, p. 37-38), which follows leftist narrative pattern of conspiracy theory about “stolen revolution”.
  • [42] Citation: “Several other officials also argued that, in the spirit of Islam, veiling would only be encouraged and promoted rather then imposed by coercion or force” (see Milani, 1992, p. 37). See also Ramezani, 2010
  • [43] Reveiling process took five years to complete. In meanwhile, women wrote articles in various papers, held meetings at different universities, and actively spoke and lectured in meetings, public institutions, and rallies. Of importance was the political strategy of the new religious leadership who placed anti-imperialism and anti-Westernism at the center of the revolutionary movement. Commmunicating to their supporters and actively mobilizing new recruits, they promoted Shia Islam as the basis of the new visionary social construct and popularized religious allegories to demonstrate the fallacies of the monarchy and the West. This strategy was successful. It appealed to active religious and secular groups including the left, intellectuals, nationalists, socialists, and other participants. It also served to bolster support and build alliances among the masses who advocated Islam and those who were alienated by the Shah’s modernization, repression, Westernization, and secularization drives. As an result, during this period almost all women spontaneously went back to wearing a headscarf and minority who strongly opposed it left the country. Practical decisions started with the Iranian Cultural Revolution in April 1980, when it was decided that women in government offices and educational institutions will observe the veil. In 1983, a dispute regarding the veiling broke out, but not involving bare-head option at all. Public conflict was motivated only by the definition of veiling and it’s scale (so-called “bad hijab” issue), and it was sometimes followed even by clashes against those who were perceived to wear improper clothing. Government felt obligated to deal with this situation, so on 4th of Mordad 1363 AP (26th of July 1984) Tehran’s public prosecutor issued a statement and announced that stricter dress-code is supposed to be observed in public places such as institutions, theaters, clubs, hotels, motels and restaurants, while in the other places it should follow the pattern of the overwhelming majority of people (see Ramezani, 2010).
  • [44] Citation: “Many argued that veiling should be reinforced to stop further dissolution of the Iranian identity and culture. The large numbers of fashionable women who wore veils during mammoth demonstrations before and after the revolution were making, among other things, a personal statement. Taking up of the veil was not only a sign of hostility to the shah or rejection of Western domination, it also testified to the disturbing psychological dilemmas and cultural dislocation experienced by many. Thus, in the late sixties and seventies, Iran experienced a renewed interest in the veil. Not only did traditional women who had never relinquished the practice continue to veil themselves but many educated, hitherto unveiled women, voluntarily took up the veil. Newly veiled women became a novel feature of the Iranian cultural scene. They could be seen in workplaces, in universities, even in the royal palace. A veilles women became the personification of cultural imperialism. Not only did many refuse to take a firm stand against veiling in the early stages of its implementation; on the contrary, they reprimanded and condemned those who openly objected to it. In the name of national independence, rejection of corrupt royalists, and in view os supposedly more important and pressing issues, they advocated and, in fact, practiced silence and conformity” (see Milani, 1992, p. 36-37). Citation: “A few years prior to the Iranian revolution, a tendency towards questioning the relevance of Eurocentric gender roles as the model for Iranian society gained much ground among university students. During the early stages of the revolution this was manifested in street demonstrations where many women, a considerable number of whom belonged to the non-veiled middle classes, put on the veil and symbolically rejected the state-sponsored gender ideology” (see Hoodfar, 1993, p. 12). Citation: “Revolutionary symbols and role models further defined the authentic cultural construction of women. An important symbol of resistance to the imported ‘culture’ which appeared in the revolutionary movement was women’s hijab. To wear the hijab became a woman’s way of enacting the revolutionary demand of respect and social value for women. The hijab became the symbol of rejection of Pahlavi values. Reza Shah’s programme of modernization of women’s position in the 1930s began by forcibly unveiling women on a massive scale. Women were then forced to adopt Western clothes and change their values overnight in accordance with their dress. The popularity of hijab during the Revolution was a sign of their rejection of forcibly imposed values” (see Paidar, 1995, p. 214). Citation: “In the 1970s hijab, a symbol of virtue, represented to the Pahlavis rejection of their rule and resistance to their forced Westernizing” (see El Guindi, 1999, p. 175). Citation: “There are women who have found in it a sense of worth and a moral high ground, especially in a social climate that was self-consciously obsessed with the display of wealth” (see El Guindi, 1999, p. 176). See also Ramezani, 2010
  • [45] Attempts of historical revisionism have been attested in American academia, for example in the article Revisiting 1930’s Iran’s kashf-i hijab campaign (published in 2014) written by self-declared dissidents Afshin Matin-Asgari and Jasamin Rostam-Kolayi from the University of California, which claims notorious ban of headscarves in the mid-1930s was neither legislated by the Majlis nor decreed by Reza Shah, and very similar to Turkish process in its nature. Authors also claim ban was “officially intended to be implemented without being forced on anyone”, in the same time failing to mention any widely attested discrimination, persecution and killings of women, and reducing numbers of victims from Mashhad protests. They also ignorantly speak about veils in the context of “face covering”. Such biased and meaningless works are clearly contrary to both historical evidence and the mainstream scholarship. UC
  • [46] Examples include: Milani, 1992, p. 19, 45; Hoodfar, 1993, p. 10; Paidar, 1995, p. 214; El Guindi, 1999, p. 175; Heath, 2008, p. 259-260; Taheri; Bahramitash; Hooglund, 2011, p. 95
  • [47] Citation: “As part of the spreading rejection of Western cultural norms, numerous women from non-traditional backgrounds took to wearing the čādor, and massive contingents of čādor-clad women participated in all the major demonstrations of the Islamic Revolution of 1357 Š./1978-79” (see Algar, 1990). Citation: “Not only did traditional women who had never relinquished the practice continue to veil themselves but many educated, hitherto unveiled women, voluntarily took up the veil” (see Milani, 1992, p. 36). Citation: “During the early stages of the revolution this was manifested in street demonstrations where many women, a considerable number of whom belonged to the non-veiled middle classes, put on the veil” (see Hoodfar, 1993, p. 12). Citation: “Many middle-class urban working women voluntarily took up the scarf” (see El Guindi, 1999, p. 175). See also Ramezani, 2010
  • [48] Citation: “As elsewhere in the Islamic East, the current form of hijab is largely an urban phenomenon – for educated and working women, a populist anti-Western symbol” (see El Guindi, 1999, p. 175-176). Citation: “In short, participation in the Revolution as a woman guaranteed an exceptionally rich and liberating experience and many women could not resist going along with it. As far as the immediate revolutionary experience of many women went, revolutionary Shiism was not a male dominated culture. Women had freely participated in the Revolution, they had experienced respect and a sense of value, and they had freely constructed and followed their chosen models of female heroism. This Shiism, many women believed, was far from being a backward ideology. If anything, it was forward looking and revolutionary. The immense sense of male-female solidarity within the revolutionary rank and file was coupled with a sense of communalism and pride in making the state and its Western supporters feel helpless” (see Paidar, 1995, p. 218-219). Citation: “Moreover, the ways in which the revolutionary leadership developed, the organization and mobilization aspects of the Revolution, the pattern of women’s participation, and the revolutionary demands and symbols, all contributed to the particular outcome of the Revolution and its construction of women” (see Paidar, 1995, p. 219-220). Citation: “Women were active participants in the revolution that toppled the shah. Like their male counterparts, such women had nationalist aspirations and denounced the shah’s regime as a U.S. puppet” (see Curtis; Hooglund, 2008, p. 117).
  • [49] The most radical examples include Mina Ahadi and Maryam Namazie, European-based members of Worker-Communist Party of Iran, notable for their pseudofeminist misrepresentation and lies about various women’s and political topics. On her blog, Namazie frequently publishes myths on every International Women’s Day, and one of the most bizarre article posted there (written by her comrade Sohaila Sharifi, dated 07/03/2008, available online) includes a dramatized claim that Khomeini’s tip for wearing a headscarf in March 1979 was not only ‘command’ but also a religious ‘fatwa’. Slightly less radical examples include other Western-based leftist activists like Mahnaz Matin and Nasser Mohajer from communist Tudeh Party (video dated 21/04/2013, available online), whose publication about the protest includes exaggerating number of protesters by tenfold, heavy confirmation bias and even conspiracy theories about ‘stolen revolution’ (frequent in leftist circles). Misusing of event is less common among monarchist activists, considering friction between them and leftists, but still quite prevalent. To cite one example, anonymous American charlatan under the pseudonym Freedom44 has published a blog (dated 29/08/2004, available online) which claims “the radical 20% forced their ideology on the majority of opposing Iranians” and event included “demonstration of hundreds of thousands, close to a million” women (actual number of all protesters is estimated between ten and fifteen thousand, see Shahidian, 2002, p. 21; Ramezani, 2010). Beside Iranian exiles, various other Westerners have used event for their own political agenda, namely American Islamophobic activist Robert Spencer on his website Jihad Watch (dated 15/04/2014, available online), and atheist activist Ali A. Rizvi from Richard Dawkins Foundation (dated 16/07/2015, available online), an organization which comically ironic self-proclaimed mission is “to support scientific education, critical thinking and evidence-based understanding”. On its official website, Iran is presented through various third-rated journalistic hoaxes, and one extremely foolish article ‘Iranian women: then and now’ (dated 23/06/2015, available online) is trying to research women’s status on the basis of comparison between two screenshots from Google’s images (first one show privileged elite from 1970s; second one ultra-conservative women from 2000s and even non-Iranian niqabs).
  • [50] In Iran, International Women’s Day has been celebrated every year since early 1920s (see Sanasarian; Fathi, 1985, p. 94). Considering diversified chants, slogans and banners, their motives in 1979 were different: from celebrating success of the Iranian Revolution and earned economic, social and political rights, to demanding additional benefits, etc. See also Algar, 2001, p. 83-84; Ramezani, 2010
  • [51] Citation: “The alleged cause of the demonstrations was the curtailment of women’s rights by the Revolutionary government” (see Algar, 2001, p. 83). UC
  • [52] Citation: “For instance, the family protection law which Muslim women activists lobbied for and Ayatollah Khomeini signed in 1987, offers women more actual protection then had been afforded by the Shah’s Family Code, which was introduced in 1969, since it entitles the wife to half the wealth accumulated during the marriage. More recently (c. 1990), the Iranian parliament approved a law that entitles women to wages for housework, forcing husbands to pay the entire sum in the event of divorce” (see Hoodfar, 1993, p. 12).
  • [53] See Ramezani, 2010
  • [54] Citation: “Far larger demonstrations in support of Ayatollah Khomeini and denunciation of these intrigues of the leftists on the one hand and the upper classes on the other went largely unreported in the Western press.” (see Algar, 2001, p. 84). See also Ramezani, 2010
  • [55] With 98 percent turnout, voters approved the referendum, with 99.31 percent in favor of the Islamic Republic (see Kauz; Sharoudi; Rieck, 2001, p. 72). Citation: “The referendum produced 99 percent yes votes for the Islamic Republic. Twenty million – out of an electorate of twenty-one million – participated” (see Abrahamian, 2008, p. 163).
  • [56] Citation: “It was interesting to see television footage of those demonstrations. These were women dressed in the latest fashions from Paris. Many had dyed their hair, which in the context is of significance. It shows a certain kind of self-hatred. It is the same kind of thing as one has seen in the United States, where Afro-Americans have tried to straighten out their hair. These were the people who were parading through the streets, led by Kate Millett and calling for women’s emancipation. This was a bubble that burst very quickly” (see Algar, 2001, p. 84). Citation: “a considerable number left the country voluntarily” (see Hoodfar, 1993, p. 12). Citation: “The requirement to observe hijab in public was controversial among the minority of secularized women who never had worn a chador. However, for the majority of women who always had worn the chador, hijab served to legitimate their presence in the public sphere, especially in work outside the home” (see Curtis; Hooglund, 2008, p. 117). Citation: “Most Iranian women living in the West cite ‘imposed’ veiling as the main reason for their migration” (see Heath, 2008, p. 260). See also Milani, 1992, p. 44. Historical irony is that some high-ranking counter-revolutionaries who opposed wearing headscarves later run away from country hidden in chadors (see Milani, 1992, p. 24), as well as defeated generals of Reza Shah in 1941 (see Chehabi, 2003, p. 214). See also Ramezani, 2010
  • [57] Citation: “Most Iranian women living in the West cite ‘imposed’ veiling as the main reason for their migration” (see Heath, 2008, p. 260). Citation: “For those who write, especially women outside the country, opposition to the veil has emerged as a central theme. For them, the veil symbolizes social deprivation and opression; it is an anachronism antithetical to progress. With anger, they oppose it and view all previous steps taken toward liberation as being eclipsed by this forced return to the Dark Ages, with which in their mind the veil is associated. For the overwhelming majority of women writing in exile, the veil is a mobile prison, a terrifying form of solitary confinement. Defiance of convention, flouting of masculine authority, or any challenge to patriarchal gender relations seems to start with opposition to the veil. Liberation becames inseparable from unveiling. ‘Modern’ becomes synonymous with ‘unveiled’ and almost equivalent to ‘civilized'” (see Milani, 1992, p. 44). Ironically, Farzaneh Milani herself claims veiling of 1984 “has not been entirely successful” and uses exiled writers Sousan Azadi and Shusha Guppy (aka Shamsi Assar) who wrote against the veil as a proof for illusory polarization (see Milani, 1992, p. 43-45). On the same basis, it can be concluded that even Iranian Revolution “hasn’t been entirely successful” because despite the fact over 99% of Iranians voted in favor of a Islamic Republic on 1979 referendums, there are still few exiled monarchists who still politically disagree with the outcome. See also Ramezani, 2010
  • [58] Admirers of 1979 Women’s Day protests provide contradictory claims about its outcome. Some of them, like Farzaneh Milani and Hammed Shahidian, expound it as a “victory” and claim that “Iranian government retreated” (see Milani, 1992, p. 37; Shahidian, 2002, p. 21), while others like Homa Hoodfar and Jennifer Heath admit defeat but due to “suppression” (see Hoodfar, 1993, p. 12; Heath, 2008, p. 258-259). Contradictory statements may be found even in single reviews, for example Shahidian puts number of “victorious” protestors at only ten thousands (see book by Shahidian, 2002, p. 21), which is so negligible comparing to any single protest of the same year. Homa Hoodfar states that book by Kate Millett is symptomatic of ethnocentrism and even racism because she suggests that the only way to liberation is to follow Western women’s models and strategies for change, but still accepts her claims that Iranian government has used her presence to associate protesters with imperialist and pro-American elements (see Hoodfar, 1993, p. 12-13). In fact, the government has released a statement and called for avoiding any violence and mutual respect between two opposing groups of protesters (see Ramezani, 2010). It has been also claimed that veiling is being enforced on women by conservatives through various means of coercion, including the horrific activity of throwing acid in the face of a woman who does not veil. Such attacks as honor crimes occurs primarily in South Asian countries like India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, but very rarely in Iran (no more frequently than in the West, less then ten cases were recorded annually and most victims are being males, see article by Farhad; Naghibzadeh; Nouhi; Rad, 2011, available online). This rumors were spread by counter-revolutionaries during the Iranian revolution (see Bauer; Nashat, 1983, p. 159; Kurzman, 2004, p. 231), and appeared in some Western media shortly later, for example in Australian newspaper The Canberra Times in 9/6/1982 (see Ramezani, 2010). Consequently, myth was popularized by exiles who tried to victimize themselves, like filmmakers Ghasem Ebrahimian (see book by Ann Kibbey, 2005, p. 56) and Shirin Neshat (see Fuse Magazine, 2005, Vol. 28-29, p. 19), monarchist conspiracy theorist Amir Taheri in four of his books (see Taheri, 1986, p. 254; ibid., 1987, p. 201; ibid., 1991, p. 270; ibid., 2008, p. 77, 92, 108, 163), pseudofeminist group WFAFI (see article dated 09/01/2006, available online), but also by foreigners like French journalist Michel Foucault (see Ramezani, 2008) and atheist activist Ibn Warraq (see book by Warraq, 2007, p. 290, 470). During the Iranian election protests in 2009, similar widespread rumor appeared on social networks where it was claimed that Iranian police helicopters poured acid over the demonstrators (see Rahimi, 2013, p. 87). The most recent acid rumors were spread in October 2014, after gang of assailants on motorbikes performed series of acid attacks on women in the Iranian city of Isfahan. Some foreign social media claimed that the perpetrators were “government agents” and “religious extremists” who probably targeted women who did not properly observe the Islamic hijab. Rumors and conspiracy theories were quickly dismissed by various Iranian officials, including president Hassan Rouhani (see PressTV, dated 27/10/2014, available online), judiciary spokesman Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Eje’i (see PressTV, dated 21/10/2014, available online) and Isfahan provincial governor Rasoul Zargarpour (see PressTV, dated 27/10/2014, available online), noting that such speculations cannot be confirmed as all victims have observed hijab, and vowing the harshest punishment possible for the perpetrators. One of the leading individuals who contributed to the spread of those false claims was Masih Alinejad, leader of “My Stealthy Freedom” campaign (see her post dated 23/10/2014, available online).
  • [59] Examples include: Sirjani, EI V/8, 1992, p. 810
  • [60] The most common methods for creating an illusion of “massive public’s negative attitude” toward Iranian dress-code (beside appeal to immigration) include fake polls, anecdotal evidences and illusory correlations. For an instance, in Rick Steves’ documentary Iran: Yesterday and Today it is claimed that “local surveys indicate that about 70% of women would dress more freely in public if allowed” (see video, 17:23, available online). No specific source has been mentioned, but considering Rick Steves’ trip to Iran occurred in spring of 2008, rumor is most probably based on a bizarre article by Communist activists Maryam Namazie and Sohaila Sharifi, published few weeks before (see pamphlet dated 07/03/2008, available online). There, among many lies and distortions, it is claimed that “a survey done by a women organization in Iran showed that 71% of women in Iran want a secular society and a secular state”. Even though as in much of his work, Rick Steven’ effort is to make the unfamiliar familiar by showing similarities in peoples and cultures, still he often falls into the trap that other travel writers have fallen into and presents his American audience with images that enhance the exotic. An example is found on the cover of the video of the documentary, a photograph in which he poses in a squatting position in front of some 20 young women, all veiled in black (see Ghanoonparvar, 2014, p. 70). Ironically, Steves as narrator also claims “there is almost no public display of affection” and “women in public wear the chador and are expected not to show their hair”, while in the same time footage actually shows couples holding hands and women who mostly wear loosely headscarves and manteaus (see video, 17:03-17:13). Method of anecdotal evidence consists of cherry-picking and finding an individual from tiny Westernized subculture who will strengthen prejudices about general dissatisfaction and who will serve as a representative sample for the whole society. Its oft even in the most benevolent travelogues about Iran (see Ghanoonparvar, 2014), including Rick Steves’ documentary where female student speaks out against the political system (see video, 14:53). The most recent example includes eye-opening trip by photojournalist Brandon Stanton, founder of Humans of New York, who interviewed Iranian-American female from Los Angeles about fashion trends (see photo with description, dated 26/08/2015, available online). Generally, such anecdotal fallacies are echoing reports by Soviet journalists from Western Europe and the United States during the Cold War, who used every single occasion for conducting casual conversations with economic malcontents and later used it as a proof for Western instability and, of course, imminent socialist revolution. Another common myth, repeated even in the most recent books and reviews, includes claim that vast majority of Iranian population is consisted of teenagers and people in their 20s, allegedly highly Westernized. Demographic part of this claim was true in early 2000s, but its incorrectly repeated during past 15 years without taking into account fresh data. Today, most of those baby-boomers (born in early 1980s) are above 30 years old (see 2011 census, p. 12-18, available online), married and tend to have more conservative views. Illusory correlation with Westernization is product of assumption that those baby-boomers were influenced by foreign media, which presents a phenomenon limited only to few larger cities where the population explosion was lower. In fact, educational and economic migration of baby-boomers inside Iran brought conservative influx in larger cities. Contrary to the claim of “Westernized youth”, W. O. Beeman argues that only older Westernized women decry any restrictions on their dress, but younger women who grew up in the Islamic Republic take it in stride (see Beeman, 2008, p. 152). In social media there were even rumors that polls about dress-code can not be conducted because it presents ‘too much sensitive’, even ‘sacred’ issue. This is beyond ridiculous, taking into account that even surveys about women’s sexual activities are available on Iranian academic databases (see Hashemi; Seddigh; Ramezani Tehrani; Hassanzadeh Khansari; Khodakarami, 2013, available online). Iranian studies about veiling and attitudes toward it actually exist. The results of 2000 survey on 120 students at Allameh Tabataba’i University showed that 12.5% of them opposed stricter veiling (see Hosseinidoost; Zahedi Asl, 2000). In 2013, the same values were found among 19% of 315 female students of Isfahan University (see Rejali; Mostajeran; Lotfi, 2013), and also among 23% of 225 female students selected by stratified sampling from different schools of Bushehr University of Medical Sciences (see Nasiri; Zarea; Nasiri; Saidkhani, 2014, p. 107, 111). In these questionnaires ‘stricter veiling’ referred to uniforms like khimar with long manteau or chador (see ibid., 2014, p. 109), so negative attitude towards it does not necessarily imply opposition to headscarf in general. More extensive survey about that particular topic has been conducted in 2010 on 531 young females (aged 15-29) from different cities in nine provinces of Iran (see Ahmadi; Bigdeli; Moradi; Seyed Esmaili, 2010, p. 99), and the results showed that 77% prefer stricter covering, 19% loose covering, and only 4% don’t believe in veiling at all (see ibid., 2010, p. 100, table 2). Considering tendency to the West correlated with 66%  of the leatest non-compliance with the dress-code (see ibid., 2010, p. 100, table 4), neo-Westernization may be regarded as negligible phenomenon among Iranian youth (ranged around 2.5%). Similar poll has been conducted in 2015 among 2868 women (aged above 15) across the country, with nearly identical results which showed between 75 and 80% of them favored current veiling practices and others looser or no veiling (see Fars News, dated 25/03/2015, available online). Four months later, a propaganda organization called International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran based in New York inverted poll results (with faked Persian translation), claiming that “only 25 percent of Iranians are inclined towards the hijab” (see article dated 21/07/2015, available online).
  • [61] From a prevailing Iranian religious perspective, a contrast between secularism and religion is also very different from the Western one. Universal legal authority of religious laws and practices was widely rejected during the so-called Enlightenment in Europe in favor of the universal doctrine of liberalism which in turn was dismissed a couple of centuries later by Post-modern critique of Modernity on the basis of a radical epistemological and ethical relativism. This resulted in rejection of any essential, universal or cosmic foundation/principle for any cultural form and practice, or human behavior in general, even those forms and practices that are rooted in religious laws and wisdom. Such negation implies that different cultural forms are more or less equal in their validity so much so that one cannot argue for the validity or superiority of any one of them against/over the other. Cultural differences even as stark as this are viewed as to be only a matter of personal preference/choice or social conditioning, and therefore each relatively valid in their respective personal or sociocultural context. In contrast, founders of religions have consistently attributed their essential doctrines and laws to immutable transcendent universal truths revealed to them through divine inspiration, and they would therefore oppose reduction of the said doctrines to mere social constructs that can be legally revised and modified according to human whims. But religions, at least as represented by theologians that have been to this day widely known and available to the modern European man, have admittedly failed to demonstrate against rational inquiries of the so-called Modern “intellectuals,” the immutable transcendental principles that underpin the universal validity of their laws. As a result, religious absolute doctrines finally came to be viewed as “unverifiable dogmas” by the moderns. This is when Islam due to its surviving rich intellectual tradition, has, in the course of its history, inspired metaphysicians with remarkable progressive success in substantiating the rational validity of religious doctrines, and this has been achieved by logical demonstration of the supernatural beings that underlie or correspond with the said doctrines. The last major contribution to this faith-inspired, rich philosophical legacy was introduced by the the 16th Persian Shia metaphysician, Mulla Sadra who finally succeeded in, among other achievements, logical demonstration of human bodily and spiritual resurrection, as well as the transcendental unity and supreme inclusiveness of God. This is what enables Iranian Shia Muslims to confidently assert intellectual superiority and subsequently legal authority of their religion over the Western civilization and its supporting ideas, as they already had in practice by establishing a theocratic republic. In Iran, due to local and neighboring experiences, secularism has very negative political reputation and is associated only with oppressive Pahlavi regime, terrorist groups like MEK and PJAK, genocidal Saddam’s Iraqi and Turkish Three Pashas regimes, aggressive Soviet policies, and hostile Western governments.
  • [62] See Paidar, 1995, p. 59; Chehabi, 2003, p. 204; Floor, 2003, p. 132
  • [63] Citation: “Contrary to some suggestions, the adoption of hijab by some women during the Revolution was not necessarily related to their class background. Women from different classes wore hijab for different reasons” (see Paidar, 1995, p. 215). Citation: “As elsewhere in the Islamic East, the current form of hijab is largely an urban phenomenon – for educated and working women” (see El Guindi, 1999, p. 175-176).
  • [64] Citation: “In the popular urban culture of Iran, in situations of conflict between men and women who are outside the family group, a very effective threat that women have is to drop their veil, and thus indicate that they do not consider the contester to be a man. This is an irrevocable insult, and cause men to be wary of getting into arguments with women” (see Hoodfar, 1993, p. 7).
  • [65] Citation: “Muslim women, and particularly Middle Eastern and North African women, have been among the most enduring subjects of discussion in the Western media for the past two centuries. It was not until the late 18th and early 19th century that the West’s overwhelming preoccupation with the veil in Muslim cultures emerged. Travel accounts and observations from commentators prior to this time show little interest in Muslim women or the veil. Some pre-19th century accounts did report on Oriental and Muslim women’s lack of morality and shamelessness based on their revealing clothes and their free mobility. Others observed and commented on the extent of women’s power within the domestic domain, an aspect totally overlooked in the latter part of 19th century. The representation of the Muslim Orient by the Christian Occident went though a fundamental change as the Ottoman Empire’s power diminished and the Muslim Orient fell deeper and deeper under European domination. The appearance and circulation of the earliest version of 1001 Nights in the West coincided with the Turkish defeat. By the 19th century the focus of representation of the Muslim Orient had changed from the male barbarian, constructed over centuries during the Crusades, to the ‘uncivilized’ ignorant male whose masculinity relies on the mistreatment of women, primarily as sex slaves. In this manner images of Muslim women were used as a major building block for the construction of the Orient’s new imagery, an imagery which has been intrinsically linked to the hegemony of Western imperialism, particularly that of France and Britain. Feminist and other scholars working in Muslim societies have recently begun to trace the entrenchment of the Western image of the oppressed Muslim women. This ‘commonsense’ knowledge about Muslim women seeped into numerous travel books, and occasionally into historical and anthropological accounts of the region” (see Hoodfar, 1993, p. 5, 7-8). Citation: “Orientalism propagated the notion of Muslim women as slaves. An assortment of missionaries, travelers and scholars, sometimes all in one, set out to explore the conditions of Muslim societies and peoples around the turn of the century. In relation to women, the following plea made by Christian missionaries was typical: ‘No one can study the tragic story of women under the Muslim faith without an earnest longing and prayer that something may be done by the united Church of Christ to meet this need. We think with pity and sorrow of the veiled women of Islam'” (see Paidar, 1995, p. 5-6).
  • [66] Citation: “For, as Ayatollah Khomeini said, ‘What we don’t want and what Islam does not want, is to make a woman an object, a puppet in the hands of men’. In this view, veiling protects woman. It is a rejection of all relations and beliefs that reduce her to the level of a naked yet sexy doll, an exploited yet presumably liberated commodity. It covers a women like an oyster embraces a pearl. It saves her from man’s uncontainable lust and unwelcome attention so that she can fully develop her potential” (see Milani, 1992, p. 38). Citation: “After all, the end result of the Pahlavi state’s female emancipation was seen to be the gharbzadeh woman of the seventies. This was a woman who lived under the influence of Western culture and therefore ‘came to embody at once all social ills: she was a super-consumer of imperialist/dependent/capitalist/foreign goods; she was a propagator of the corrupt culture of the West; she was undermining the moral fabric of society; she was a parasite beyond any redemption’. Ayatollah Khomeini conveyed his pride in the way women rejected the gharbzadeh woman by their participation in the Revolution: ‘Any nation that has women like the Iranian women will surely be victorious’. He promised them real freedom, equality and dignity. Khomeini’s statements were couched in general terms and allowed women to interpret them in their own ways” (see Paidar, 1995, p. 213-214). Citation: “The issue of women’s liberation was made central to the revolutionary demand for the overthrow of the Shah and was voiced by a nation of men and women on behalf of women. Mass demonstrations shouted slogans against the conception of women as sex-objects and demanded respect and social value for women. The Pahlavi dynasty was labelled’ as the spreader of prostitution and the corrupter of women and family. It was demanded that the alien Western culture adopted by the regime of the Shah be uprooted. Like class demands, gender demands too were situated at the heart of the slogan of freedom, independence, Islamic Republic. An important aspect of the revolutionisation of gender relations was the enactment of new gender relations within the Revolution. The alternative ‘culturally appropriate’ mode of male-female interaction being demanded ‘necessitated a reorganization of gender relations within the revolutionary movement. If the regime was accused of treating women as sex objects, then, women could not be treated as such within the revolutionary movement. The same applied to other oppressed groups” (see Paidar, 1995, p. 217). Citation: “Islamic intellectual Shariati’s critique of women’s position under capitalism (to use of women’s bodies for selling commodities, the competition amongst women to be beautiful to attract men’s attention) appealed to secular leftist, feminists, and religious Iranians, and gave an impetus for women to return to the chador as a way to counter that. The chador came to be regarded as a leveler of gross income inequality, as a protector against male harassment, and to confer dignity on a women so that she would be regarded as a person, not as a sex object. Wearing a chador symbolized that a women was anti-Shah, anti-imperialism, anti-corruption, anti-moral decadence and against capitalism’s exploitation of the modern consumer woman” (see Bullock, 2002, p. 90-91). Citation: “For them, Westernization was merely a new disguise for political dominance and cultural imperialism, a threat to Iranian and Islamic culture. The Western way of life was viewed as vulgar and decadent. Opposition to the shah, his policies, and his alliance to and dependency on the West increased and as it did, so grew his determination to suppress it. The shah’s expanding military might was, to some extent, aimed at his internal opposition. Over the years, his regime became increasingly undemocratic and dictatorial. In the 1970s, many Iranians raised questions about the negative impacts of rapid social change. Some Iranians, like some Turks and Egyptians, directed their criticism at political leaders. The failure of regimes espousing capitalist, socialist and nationalist ideology led many to doubt the merits of these imported ideologies. Turning to Islam and so-called authentic culture had a great appeal and came to be known as the authenticity movement. Proponents of cultural authenticity believed cultural imperialism had corrupted Iranian women. These women, instead of following their own Islamic culture, had adopted Western values and allowed themselves to be seen and used as sexual objects. With revealed hair, they had made themselves inauthentic to Iran, becoming ‘Western dolls’ and slaves to Western fashions, obsessed with consumerism and lacking social and political consciousness. Women were pivotal to the political construction of the authenticity movement of the 1970s, whose image was shaped by Dr. Ali Shariati, a French-educated Iranian sociologist. By setting Fatemeh (also Fatema or Fatima), the daughter of Prophet Muhammad, as a role model, Shariati inspired women to emulate her modesty. He encouraged women to distance themselves from the ideology and fashion that objectified them, to challenge traditional customs, and to take active roles in the pursuit of education. What’s more, he urged them to respect their bodies and minimize their sexual appeal by wearing a long and loose manteau, or jacket, and cover their hair with a rusary, or scarf. This outfit symbolized the modern Muslim woman” (see Heath, 2008, p. 257). UC
  • [67] Citation: “The sociocultural implications of the veil, however, seem to have failed to maintain their traditional hold. The conventional equation: veiled/silent/absent proved to be no longer operative. Some veiled women are both publicly articulate and visible. In this shifting meaning of the veil, women are neither eliminated from communal life nor relegated to the domain of the private. They are voiced and ever so present in the public scene. The veil has thus developed new connotations quite different from the traditional notions. It is argued, for instance, that the veil frees the country of alien ideologies and establishes women’s independence from Western domination or styles. Moreover, those who support the veil use every occasion to justify and glorify its use not only in religious or nationalistic terms but also in terms of interests serving women’s own welfare. The veil, it is maintained, does not imprison women or limit their social mobility. On the contrary, it facilitates their access to social institutions without objectifying their sexuality” (see Milani, 1992, p. 38). Citation: “These two role models betray a fascinating contradiction in the ideal role of women within the Islamic Republic. On the one hand, the stress is on motherhood and singleness of commitment to family. On the other hand, there is the demand that women serve the state. Awakened to women’s revolutionary potential, the Islamic Republic has had to change its stance and reinterpret religion according to those values and standards that are consonant with and serve to fulfill its present interests. For instance, in the early sixties many clerics objected to women’s enfranchisement as un-Islamic. In post-revolutionary Iran, however, women’s right to vote and be voted for are not only encouraged but religiously sanctified. Whereas before the revolution many religious figures objected to women’s military training, by 1986 the Women’s Defense Committee offered six months of intensive military training for interested students at universities and teacher-training institutes. Whereas discussion about women’s equality with man was once considered un-Islamic, now many praise Islam for empowering women and putting them next and equal to men. Referring to women’s active participation in society in the early years of Islam, Ayatollah Khomeini argued that women’s access to public/social life deteriorated progressively: ‘People say that for instance in Islam women have to go inside the house and lock themselves in. This is a false accusation. In the early years of Islam women were in the army, they even went to battlefields. Islam is no opposed to universities. It opposes corruption in the universities; it opposes backwardness in the universities; it opposes colonial universities. Islam has nothing against universities. Islam empowers women. It puts them next to men. They are equals’. The image of women fully veiled but carrying guns on their shoulders or participating in conventionally male arenas contrasts sharply with any traditional or simple definition of womanhood” (see Milani, 1992, p. 42). Citation: “Thus the popular prediction that the Islamic Republic would strive to eliminate women from social and productive life and limit them to the four walls of the patriarchal household has not materialized. Intentions and causes aside, women have played an active, militant role in postrevolutionary Iran. Visible in the public arena, they have been negotiating boundaries” (see Milani, 1992, p. 43). Citation: “Traditionally, women were excluded from religious processions but now thousands of veiled women took part” (see Paidar, 1995, p. 216). Citation: “Many women today owe their jobs, their economic autonomy, and their public persona, to hijab” (see El Guindi, 1999, p. 176). Citation: “For them, the veil would be liberating, providing opportunities they did not enjoy under the shah. In veils or the manteau/rusary, the daughters of traditional religious families, filled the seats in universities and found employment in the public sector, even taking night shifts, once taboo for traditional Iranian families. The veil has increased the social presence of these women, paradoxically bringing them out of seclusion” (see Heath, 2008, p. 259-260). Citation: “Women in the Islamic Republic were better off in many respects then they were under the Pahlavi regime. Moreover, their condition has continued to improve. Women have always had a strong role in Iranian life. Their prominent and often decisive participation in public political movements has been especially noteworthy. Brave and often ruthlessly pragmatic, women have been more then wiling to take to the streets in a good public cause throughout modern Iranian history. The Islamic Republic has made a special point of emphasizing women’s equality in education, employment, and politics as a matter of national pride. Although women have served in the Iranian legislature and as government ministers since the 1950s, there are more women in the current parliament then ever served under the Pahlavi regime. Under the current Islamic government, virtually all professions are theoretically open to women. A class of female religious leaders has even emerged. They have attended religious training schools and have the title mujtahedeh, the female form of the word mujtahed, or religious judge. Iranian women may actually be in the vanguard in the Islamic World. As their progress becomes better known, they are sure to inspire others to pursue their dreams. The New Islamic Woman is a reality, and will undoubtedly be a force to reckon with in the future” (see Beeman, 2008, p. 150-152). Citation: “They allowed women to study abroad on state scholarships. They even passed bills directly contradicting traditional interpretations of the sharia. They eliminated all distinctions between men and women, between Muslims and non-Muslims, in accepting witnesses in court and awarding monetary compensations for damages. They increased the marriageable age for girls to fifteen (from thirteen). They reopened the judiciary to women. They gave them equal rights in divorce courts and permitted them to have custody rights over children under the age of seven. Never before in the Middle East had a freely elected parliament so blatantly challenged basic tenets of the sharia. What is more, they ratified the UN Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women – the USA has still refused to ratify this highly egalitarian convention. The liberal cause was further bolstered when Ayatollah Youssef Sanai, one of Khomeini’s favorite disciples, came out in full support of women’s rights. He ruled that the law should not differentiate between the sexes, and that women should have the right to become presidents, chief judges, and even Supreme Leaders” (see Abrahamian, 2008, p. 190). See also Ramezani, 2010
  • [68] According to the UNESCO data, literacy rate among adult females (15 and above) in 1976 stood at 24.42%. Today, literacy rate among young females (15-24), all educated in the Islamic Republic, stands at 98.17% (see Index Mundi, applied from UNESCO database, available online).
  • [69] According to data released by the UNESCO and the World Bank in early 2010s, Iran had 2,191,409 female students enrolled in tertiary education (ranked 7th in the World), followed by Germany (1,471,723), United Kingdom (1,404,400), France (1,259,140) and Italy (1,107,337). In 1978, a year before the Iranian revolution has started, number stood at only 48,845 Iranian female students (see UNESCO database, available online).
  • [70] Citation: “The lack of interest or acknowledgement of Muslim women activists’ achievements on the part of scholars and feminist activists from Europe and North America is remarkable. This disregard, in a context where the ‘excesses’ of the Islamic government toward women continues to make headlines and the subject of Muslim women and religious revivalism in the Muslim World continue to be matters of wide interest, is an indicator of the persistence of Orientalist and colonial attitudes towards Muslim cultures. Whenever unfolding events confirm Western stereotypes about Muslim women, researches and journalists rush to spread the news of Muslim women’s oppression. This is symptomatic of ethnocentrism (if we don’t call it racism) and the lingering implicit or explicit assumption that the only way to ‘liberation’ is to follow Western women’s models and strategies for change. Consequently, Third World women’s, and particularly Muslim women’s, views are entirely ignored” (see Hoodfar, 1993, p. 12-13). Citation: “One of the main shortcomings of the Middle Eastern studies has been the marginalization of gender, that is the politics of male-female relations in the society. Until recently, marginalization of gender relations was symptomatic of most areas of social sciences. But the field of Middle Eastern· studies is still one of the less developed ones in relation to the integration of gender relations into the wider social studies. Despite the growing academic interest in the 1980s in the contemporary political history of the region, gender issues do not feature except marginally in scholarly works. The mainstream or rather ‘malestream’ Middle Eastern studies, as some feminists may prefer to describe it, has continued to adopt a gender-blind methodology. The position(s) occupied by women in the family and society at large are central to the definition(s) of gender relations in any society. A major symptom of gender marginalization in studying the political history of the Middle East has been the persistence of certain assumptions about Muslim women and their roles in society. Such assumptions, it must be said, have been shared across the board by Western and Middle Eastern male and female scholars. One widespread assumption is that the only political and economic domains worth studying in Muslim societies are the formal ones, and Muslim women are unimportant or at best marginal to these domains because they have few formal political and economic rights and make a limited contribution to formal domains. Women’s activities and contributions to national processes are thus ignored in a number of ways. The operation of these assumptions have no doubt adversely affected the development of the field of Middle Eastern political history. The quality of the literature is affected because of its failure to fully appreciate and establish the links between gender, politics and society. As will be demonstrated in the following chapters in relation to Iran, the question of women is far from an optional extra in analyzing Iranian political history. On the contrary, the study of Iranian political discourses shows that gender relations and women’s positions are situated at the heart of these discourses. Women’s issues have not arisen in twentieth-century Iran merely because of the open-mindedness and progressive policies of our revolutionaries and statesmen, as is often assumed. They have become the burning issues of this century in Iran because any discourse which has addressed the question of political and social reorganization of Iranian society has necessarily entailed a redefinition of gender relations and as part of that the reorganization of women’s positions. To marginalize the relevance of women’s issues to national processes is to misunderstand the political history of Iran and other Middle Eastern societies which have revolved around the question of development and change in this century. Another effect of the operation of inaccurate assumptions about women’s activities manifests itself in the unevenness and quality of information and research on women. A vicious circle is created in the sense that the more gender issues are treated as isolated the less new information and data become available on women, which then prohibits development of further integrated research and analysis. Adoption of gender-blind methodology has prevented many mainstream scholars from recognizing and utilizing historical and contemporary material on gender relations when they come across them. The unevenness of data and information has been further exacerbated by the resource-led nature of much of the gender research” (see Paidar, 1995, p. 1-2).
  • [71] UC
  • [72] Citation: “Since the revolution, an alternate form of acceptable dress has emerged, a long dress with full-length opaque stockings, a long-sleeved coat, and a head scarf covering the hair. The dress has gradually evolved into a thin shoulder-to-ankle smock called a manto after the French word manteau (overcoat). The head scarf has been transformed into a hood modeled after a similar garment in North Africa called a magnaeh. In adopting this dress, women have been woderfully inventive. The manto, though dark in color, is often made of silk or other fine fabric, embroidered, finely tailored, with elegant closures. Women wear it over jeans or other Western fashions. The magnaeh may also be of satin and turned out in fashionable colors like eggplant or dark teal. In short, the Iranian women have made virtue out of necessity and created high fashion from their concealing garments” (see Beeman, 2008, p. 152).
  • [73] Influences of Western culture on Iranian clothing trends have been measured in only a few percent (see Ahmadi; Bigdeli; Moradi; Seyed Esmaili, 2010, p. 100, table 4). It should be noted that evolution of Iranian women’s fashion has been attributed frequently to the policies of reformist president Khatami (see Heath, 2008, p. 260-261; Abrahamian, 2008, p. 190), however, the same process was continued under conservative president Ahmadinejad so today such interpretation can be considered as outdated.
  • [74] Citation: “Inspired by tribal and ethnic head coverings, women have fashioned new scarves and different ways of wearing them. Women’s creativity in styling trendy-yet-acceptable Islamic attire is a manifestation of their desire for self-expression and their quest for a new identity and image” (see Heath, 2008, p. 260). UC
  • [75] See Gholipour, 2008, p. 23
  • [76] UC
  • [77] UC
  • [78] Citation: “The chador became a rallying cry for two powerful opponents to the Shah, the Fedayeen and the Mujahidin. These groups, ideologically opposed, the Fedayeen being a Marxist group and the Muhahidin an Islamic-Marxist group, joined forces to oust the Shah. The Fedayeen and Mujahidin were able to find common ground in their fight against the Shah: fighting Western imperialism, the loss of national identity, and women’s position under capitalism. In 1993, exiled Mujahidin movement elected a woman, Maryam Rajavi, as president-elect” (see Bullock, 2002, p. 90-91). Exception includes communist Tudeh Party who earlier welcomed unveiled women and used them in its processions (see Abrahamian, 1982, p. 373; Abrahamian, 1993, p. 73, 81). Citation: “Most if not all of the political parties and groups believed like the Mojahedin-e Khalq that ‘to propose questions, which in the present circumstances are not part of the main problems of our society and movement is to cause deviation and the waste of forces and energies. It will provide opportunities and pretexts for plotting and agitation by the counter-revolution. Such is the debate aroused today by the question of the veil'” (see Milani, 1992, p. 37). See also Ramezani, 2010. Citation: “Khomeini’s final clash with the Left came over neither religion, the veil, nor the sanctity of the family – as claimed by the Islamic Republic – but over land reform” (see Abrahamian, 1993, p. 100).
  • [79] In 2010 survey on 531 young females (aged 15-29) from different cities in nine provinces of Iran, no significant relationship existed between the attitude to veiling and variables such as profession, marital status, field of study and residency status (see Ahmadi; Bigdeli; Moradi; Seyed Esmaili, 2010, p. 99, 101, table 5).
  • [80] Inaccurate claims about “flogging” or “two years imprisonment” for unveiling were spread by the Western media (see Ramezani, 2010), and can be found in: Milani, 1992, p. 44; Hoodfar, 1993, p. 12; Paidar, 1995, p. 342-344; El Guindi, 1999, p. 175; Heath, 2008, p. 260. While this may be attributed to a simple mistake and further transcribing in newer books, others can only be described as malicious deception. For an instance, anti-IR political activist Nayereh Tohidi has claimed that clergyman Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani in May 1986 announced that “those women who are not covered properly, e.g. revealing some hair beneath their headscarves and wearing bright colors, will be arrested and put in a concentration camp to undergo reindoctrination and do forced labor, and unlike regular prisoners, thsese women must have their daily expenses paid by husbands or male kinsmen” (see book by Mohanty; Russo, 1991, p. 266). Similar false statement appeared in Western media in August 1991, when it was reported that Iranian Prosecutor-General Mir Abolfazl Mousavi-Tabrizi declared that “anyone who rejects the principle of the hijab is an apostate and the punishment for apostasy under Islamic law is death”. None of such claims have religious basis, and Mousavi-Tabrizi personally denied that he said anything similar. Still, hoax was later repeated in various books (see books by Peters; Wolper, 1995, p. 75; Weithman, 1997, p. 97; Nussbaum, 1999, p. 81; Askin; Koenig, 2001, p. 424), and also in atheist pamphlets by Ibn Warraq (see book by Warraq, 2003, p. 210) and Abul Kasem (see Islam Watch, dated 03/10/2008, available online). Another atheist activist and anti-Iranian warmonger, Christopher Hitchens, during discussion with an Iranian woman suggested that she “couldn’t show her face and hair or sitting among males inside Iran”, and that she would be “beaten, raped and detained” (see Australian talk show Q&A, 2009, 51:55, available online). Similar morbid claims like “Iranian police raping and murdering woman for bad hijab” were also spread by Islamophobic/Zionist activists Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller (see Jihad Watch, dated 11/07/2010, available online).
  • [81] ‌See Kitab-e Panj Qanun-e Mojazat-e Eslami [The fifth book of the Penal Code] (Persian), chapter 18, article 141, Tehran: Majlis-e Showra-ye Eslami [Iranian Parliament], dated 03/02/1375 AP, available online
  • [g2] UC
  • [g3] UC
  • [g4] UC
  • [g5] UC
  • [g6] UC
  • [g7] Citation: “About all the women’s chadors were made in Yazd, both in cotton and silk” (see Floor, 1999, p. 26). Citation: “In Yazd silken stuffs were made, above all it’s chadors were well-known” (see Floor, 1999, p. 106).
  • [g7b] UC
  • [g8] UC
  • [h1] Citation: “Zahra Rahnavard: ‘But we should remember that in Islam men are also required to observe modest dress and behavior'” (see Milani, 1992, p. 43-44).
  • [h2] Citation: “Islam requires that both women and men adopt modest dress. For men this means eschewing tight pants, shorts, short-sleeved shirts, and open collars” (see Beeman, 2008, p. 151).
  • [h5] Citation: “To cite one extreme example, among the North African Tuareg tribe, men veil themselves. Their veiling, however, is an expression of men’s status and power” (see Milani, 1992, p. 19).
  • [i1] UC
  • [i0] Citation: “Images of thousands of marching veiled women and portraits of Ayatollah Khomeini being led by heavily clad little girls were bound to make strong impressions on the enemy” (see Paidar, 1995, p. 215). UC
  • [i8] See Strategies for promotion of chastity (Persian) on the official website of Iranian Majlis (dated 04/05/1384 AP, available online). This kind of activism is supported by governmental cultural programs (para. 26), but its clearly stated that any kind of imposing must be avoided (para. 37). For awarding women with flowers and gifts for their dressing and correct answering, see ISNA gallery (dated 11/02/1392 AP).
  • [j1] UC
  • [j2] UC


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