Protests against the oppression of Muslim women: Ensaf Haidar, the wife of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, cleans her high heels with a hijab.
In Iran, the death of a young woman drives thousands of people onto the streets to demonstrate against the regime. Particularly courageous women rip off their headscarves, although they face penalties for doing so.
The protests were triggered by the fate of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by the moral and religious police on September 13 while visiting family in Tehran. Her crime: she was dressed “un-Islamically”. Strands of hair appeared to be peeking out from under her hijab.
Amini died at the police station where they tried to brief her on the dress code. The cause of death is unclear. According to police, she passed out and then into a coma. However, the broadcaster 1500tasvir, which reports on human rights violations, reported that Amini had been hit on the head.
Blogger wife polishes her shoes
Out of anger at the actions of the police, people are currently taking to the streets in 30 cities – including Amini’s home province of Kurdistan – and shouting slogans like “Down with the dictator!”. The police used water cannons and batons. So far there have been at least 17 deaths and thousands arrested.
Live ammunition shots at the protesters are also reported on videos that could not be verified. The Internet is massively restricted, and mobile networks in particular are largely shut down. Instagram, one of the last free social networks, was also blocked.
Women around the world show solidarity with the Iranians. Videos are posted of women cutting their hair or burning their hijab.
The Muslim Ensaf Haidar (37), the wife of the well-known Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi (38), who spent ten years in prison for criticizing the regime in Iran and has not been allowed to leave the country for ten years, protests on Instagram with a video . In it, she provocatively takes off her hijab and uses it to clean her pink high heels. Her comment: “In solidarity with my sister Mahsa Amini, who was murdered in cold blood.”
«Hijab means oppression»
“What happened in Iran is a heinous crime,” Ensaf Haidar told Blick. “And the person responsible for this crime is the supreme leader. I’m shocked!” She has great respect for the people who dare to take to the streets in Iran. “It’s great and inspiring, my heart goes out to them. But the criminal Iranian regime is brutally suppressing the protest.”
She says about her video: “They deceive you in the West when they tell you that the hijab is a symbol for Muslim women. He is nothing but a symbol of slavery and sexual oppression.”
Ensaf Haidar lives in Canada with her three children and ran for the social democratic and separatist Bloc Québécois in the national elections in 2021. It wasn’t enough, but she got the second-best result in her constituency.
Despite the threat of penalties, there have been repeated protests in Iran, which incidentally supplies Russia with kamikaze drones in the war against Ukraine. “The current movement is spreading across the country and is broader than usual,” says Middle East expert Erich Gysling (86) to Blick. Today people took to the streets who would never have dared to do it before.
The massive protests even had an effect. “President Ebrahim Raisi, known as a hardliner, is trying to defuse the situation and has called the parents of the deceased woman,” says Gysling. There are also efforts to stop the moral police from intervening so harshly.
“These government efforts are remarkable,” says Gysling. However, one is very far away from the fall of the regime that many are hoping for.