The world is witnessing something unprecedented in Iranian history, says Kian Tajbakhsh, a fellow at Columbia University’s Committee on Global Thought; a feminist social movement.
Zan, Zendegi, Azadi: Woman! Life! Freedom!
This is the stirring slogan of the protests that have erupted across Iran, triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year old Kurdish Iranian woman who was visiting Tehran with her family when Iran’s morality police detained her on September 16 for showing too much hair under her hijab (head scarf).
Led by predominantly young women and men in their late teens and twenties, the nonviolent protests are expressing a range of priorities. Beyond their frustrations at the indignities of being harassed and arrested for violating the Islamic dress code—not to speak of the danger of dying as Amini did—most are also expressing a desire to live under a different system of government.
I believe we are witnessing something unprecedented in Iranian history: a feminist social movement. The renewed demand for accountable government and individual freedom—the liberal democratic ideal—has sprung up from the battle over the patriarchal control of women’s bodies and the paternalistic domination of public space.
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