Under the wraps

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In their book “The Narrow Corridor“, Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson have explained that ‘liberty’ comprises of two basic components: (i) state and (ii) society; the balance of which ensures sustainability and stability for a country. Later in this book, they have also introduced their readers to a very interesting concept based on these two components that defines three types of states we witness in today’s world. First is the “Shackled State” or the modern welfare state which emerges because of the balance between the state and society. The second type is when the state falls behind, the society ends up living in an “Absent State” and the third is “Despotic State”, where the society is too weak or confined as compared to the state which is imperial and authoritative.
Since the revolution of 1979, Iran has been in a despotic leviathan state, where the rulers reign supreme and their laws & legislations are passed with no involvement or consent from the society. Being under tremendous economic hardships, due to global sanctions for their nuclear program, people of Iran were already bearing the consequences of decisions made by their leadership. Once again now, since 16th September 2022, Iran is making headlines in global media for an incident that sparked national riots within the country.
Hijab (Head covering) is not a choice but a compulsion for Iranian women which is required to be followed as a part of a strict dress code for them defined by their government. They have their own “Moral Police” to enforce and implement the law. In past many cases of mishandling, mistreatment and misconduct by their moral police surfaced which were either neglected or ignored by the government and conveniently brushed under the rugs.
On 13th September 2022, a 22-year-old young woman named Masha Amini was arrested by the moral police in Tehran for allegedly violating Iran’s Hijab and Modesty Laws. Amini later passed away on 16th September 2022 while she was under custody. Her detention and suspicious death raged fury among the locals which later took to social media platforms to condemn and protest against the heartbreaking incident.
Masha Amini was declared brain dead when she was brought into a hospital emergency from her detention center. The hospital later retracted their original statement and stated the cause of her death as heart failure. Amini’s parents disregarded the given cause saying that their daughter was in perfect health and had no previous heart issues when she was taken into custody. Her pictures on the hospital bed show her unconscious, with bruises on her face and traces of blood near her ear. She was clearly tortured.
When oppression, disappointment, anger and pain grows; courage and unprecedented strength is born to reshape the world which changes fate of nations. Masha Amini’s death has sparked riots and protests erupted from Tehran and quickly spread throughout the whole country. Women along with men have taken onto the street against this brutal murder which they claim to be a result of decades old tyranny. They are coming out and voicing their desperate cry to be heard and seen. Some women are burning their hijabs while others are cutting their hair in protest and to mark solidarity with Masha Amini. Men and women from all around the world are coming forward in support and solidarity with the brave Iranians who, at the cost of risking their lives, are chanting against their current regime for a long-awaited change to breath with freedom and dignity in their own country.
“Do remember, though, that sometimes the people you oppress become mightier than you would like” – Veronica Roth.
Till date, more than 20 people have lost their lives since the protest started after Masha’s funeral. The state took strict action by intensifying crackdown against the protesters. Many were arrested or injured. The government also went out a step ahead to black out the noise by deactivating cellular services and restrain social media platforms by restricting internet in the country. Iran’s military and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Copse (IRGC) have also warned the people of severe and stern measures against demonstrators if the current situation does not deescalate peacefully.
When you take away freedom of choice from the society, the people are manipulated into believing that they are controlled puppets rather than persons. There is a limit to every oppression which leads to revolt at some point which eventually gives birth to revolutions. Cultural values should never be confused with religion and respect for humanity should reign supreme.