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September 21, 2022
Thousands of Iranians have been protesting for the past week over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini last Friday after she was arrested by Iranian police who enforce the country’s rules on modest dress and behavior. We offer our condolences to the family of Mahsa Amini and the victims of the Iranian government’s crackdown on protestors in the wake of her death. We believe that the government’s imposition of a dress code is harsh and repressive, as is their treatment of protestors.
As educators about world religions, we have observed that the imposition of religious practices only serves to drive people away from religion and has never been an effective way to build a healthy and thriving society. In the case of Islam, worship should be undertaken for God alone, and forcing people to do something not only takes away from that intent but can create the opposite effect – the disillusionment with and rejection of religion which we are currently witnessing in Iran and certain other Muslim-majority nations that impose religious practice on their populations. While governments need to have some sort of dress code, the fixation on controlling women’s bodies is problematic and counterproductive. To learn more about women’s rights and modest dress (hijab) in Islam, visit our answers to frequently asked questions webpage and view questions about hijab (21-25) and women (100-108).
Like women worldwide, Muslim women are striving for their rights and making gains. Fifteen Muslim women have served as heads of state, and Muslim women across the globe are contributing as scientists, engineers, physicians, businesswomen, academics, and innovators. Iranian women include notable figures such as Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Anousheh Ansari, the first Iranian astronaut and a telecommunication entrepreneur, Masoumeh Ebtekar, former Vice President of Iran for Women and Family Affairs, and Zahra Rahnavard, an academic and politician.