Of Tehran and Tucson

Misogyny knows no borders.

Last month, Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman from the provinces of Iran, was visiting Tehran when she was arrested and jailed by the country’s so-called “morality police” — the “guidance patrol,” as they call themselves — for wearing her head covering too loosely.

Three days later, she was dead, almost certainly killed by those authorities while in their custody.

I’ll repeat that, as they say on the BBC: She was not arrested for refusing to wear the scarf, just for wearing it too loosely. For that she was murdered by the religious police. (The government claims she died of a heart attack.)

Following her death, Iran erupted in nationwide protest, with demonstrators taking to the streets of the capital, as well as Tabriz, Mashhad, Isfahan, Shiraz, and even the holy city of Qom, clashing with police, who in some cases fired on them with ball ammo. At least 41 people, both protestors and police officers, have been killed. Defiant Iranian women have been burning their own headscarves and cutting their hair in protest, as captured on video in images disseminated worldwide, causing protests to spread to other countries. In an attempt to quell the unrest, the Iranian government has restricted Internet access and shut down Instagram and WhatsApp, with President Ebrahim Raisi claiming that the protests are being orchestrated by outsiders, the US specifically. Meanwhile, his military is carrying out cross-border attacks on Iranian Kurdish groups in northern Iraq for their support of these demonstrations.

All told, it has been a remarkable public uprising against Iran’s medievalist theocracy, maybe the most remarkable in the 43 years since the mullahs seized power, and all the more remarkable for being led by women, at jawdropping risk to their personal safety. Their courage is inspiring beyond belief.

Observing the fanatic religiosity of the Tehran regime and the appalling oppression of women that it entails, it’s all too easy for those of us in the West to cluck our tongues, with sanctimony dialed up to eleven.

Except.

It’s impossible to watch events in Iran and not register that, at the exact same time, the legislature of the state of Arizona, right here in the allegedly modern world…

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Robert Edwards / The King's Necktie

Writer, filmmaker, and veteran — blogging at The King’s Necktie @TheKingsNecktie