As Iranian women continued to pay tribute to the woman who decided to bare all – well, her head and face, anyway – and pose without a hijab, Iran’s clerics went on demonstrating just what they were protesting.
Earlier this month, Tehran’s Friday prayer leader, Ayatollah Kazem Siddiqui, said the role of women in society was to be housewives and raise children, according to news website Kaleme. Siddiqui said the Prophet Muhammad’s daughters, Zainab and Fatimah, should serve as role models for Iranian women, saying they exemplified a lifestyle, as well as standards of modesty, that they should aspire to emulate.
Meanwhile, thousands of hardliners gathered in Tehran to urge authorities to “take heed of the situation of hijab and chastity in the society” and enforce standards of modesty even more stringently.
In the same vein, the country’s deputy culture minister, Hossein Nushabadi, blasted a world-renowned, award-winning Iranian actress for “violating religious beliefs” after the president of the Cannes Film Festival kissed her on the cheek.
In some respects, things aren’t all bad. The Washington Post recently published an in-depth feature on the country’s female drug addicts, saying Iran was starting to confront the “uncomfortable, taboo” problem by establishing a rehab center for them.
But does this hopeful sign mean Iran is taking significant steps towards recognizing and addressing its social ills, and eventually becoming a more progressive society? Iran’s state welfare chief, Razieh Khodadoust, recently declared that female drug addiction was but a “trick by our enemies to attack Islamic values of Iranian families,” an elaborate plan to “spread drugs among Iranian women.”
In other words, don’t hold your breath.