After the death of Mahsa Amini, who fell into a coma and then died while in custody of Iran's morality police, protests have erupted across Iran, and an outpouring of support has flooded in from around the world. Amini, a 22-year-old woman visiting Tehran in September, was arrested for allegedly wearing her hijab “improperly.” Her death inspired women all over Iran and other countries to ditch the hijab or cut off their hair as a sign of protest. The latest act of solidarity against hijab enforcement comes from Kerala, India, where a group of female Muslim demonstrators set a hijab on fire.
The protest took place during a seminar about free thinking in Kozhikode, run by the rationalist organization Kerala Yukthivadi Sangham. While the hijab was being lit, other women held signs featuring messages of support and a picture of Amini. It's the first incident of a hijab burning reported in the country. While India is a secular state by law and Kerala is considered a progressive region in comparison with the rest of India, some families and communities enforce the use of a hijab, so the muslim women who join these protests could face some form of retaliation.
Regardless of the consequences, people around the world are showing they empathize with the women of Iran and are emboldened to have their voices heard. The hijab, which became mandatory for women and girls over the age 9 to wear in Iran shortly after the 1979 revolution, is more than just a piece of fabric or a sign of modesty because of the strict observance set in place. Though the hijab was made mandatory decades ago, the election of the ultraconservative president Ebrahim Raisi in 2021 made enforcement much more vigorous and violent. By burning the hijab, women are ridding themselves of symbolic oppression. It is a fight for their freedom to choose what they wear.
When a movement in any country emerges, it's always reassuring to know the plea of the people is being heard and supported by those abroad. Though there is support from people in foreign lands, Iranian women continue carrying the baton for liberty to the chant of “Women, life, freedom,” and defying the oppressive authorities at all levels. Sadly, it is reported that 321 protesters have been killed, and over a thousand have been indicted for joining the unrest. Nevertheless, the women of Iran keep on fighting and rising against those who want to dictate what they can or cannot wear.
A group of female Muslim demonstrators in Kerala, India, set a hijab on fire to show their solidarity with the women of Iran.
h/t: [India Today]
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