Monday, July 28, 2014


Persian Letters

Cleric Beaten Up By 'Badly Veiled' Woman

Officially, the hijab is promoted as “protection” for women against evil in society.
Officially, the hijab is promoted as “protection” for women against evil in society.
"I politely [told] her to cover herself up," said Hojatoleslam Ali Beheshti, an Iranian cleric in the city of Shamirzad in Semnan Province, describing a recent encounter with a woman he believed was improperly veiled.

"She responded to me by saying: 'You [should] close your eyes.'"

The cleric, who spoke to the semi-official Mehr news agency, said he repeated his warning to the “bad hijab” woman, which is a way of describing women who do not fully observe the Islamic dress code that became compulsory following the 1979 revolution.

"Not only didn’t she cover herself up, but she also insulted me. I asked her not to insult me anymore, but she started shouting and threatening me," Beheshti said. "She pushed me and I fell to the ground on my back. From that point on, I don’t know what happened. I was just feeling the kicks of the woman who was beating me up and insulting me."

He said he was hospitalized for three days following the attack.

I’m not a supporter of violence, but as a woman who grew up in Iran and was harassed many times for appearing in public in a way that was deemed un-Islamic, I understand the frustration that woman in Semnan must have felt and why she lashed out at the cleric.

(Here are my thoughts on the hijab in Iran.)

For the past 30 years, Iranian women have been harassed, detained, fined, and threatened by the morality police, security forces, and zealots over their appearance. Women have fought back in different ways, including by pushing the boundaries of acceptable dress and criticizing the rules, which apply only to women.

Officially, the hijab is promoted as “protection” for women against evil in society. For many women, however, the hijab feels like a burden, an insult, a limitation of their freedom and an attempt to keep them under control.

Young girls often cite the mandatory hijab as one of the main reasons they want to leave Iran and move to another country. Women being mistreated by the police because of their hijabs have become a common scene on the streets of the Iranian capital and other cities, especially during the hot summer months when the hijab crackdown intensifies.

There have also been cases of women clashing with the morality police, including a number of cases that have been documented by citizen journalists and posted on YouTube.

The situation has led to conflicts between women and religious zealots such as Beheshti, who believe that the Islamic principle of “commanding right and forbidding wrong” makes it their duty to lecture women about their appearance and choice of dress.

Mehr reports that attacks against clerics similar to the one involving Beheshti are not rare. The news agency issued the names of three other clerics, including a representative of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who have been attacked.

"...Hojatoleslam Seyed Mahmud Mostafavi Montazeri in [a street] in Tehran; Hojatoleslam Farzad Farouzesh, the Friday Prayer leader of Tehran Medical Science University, on the capital’s Shariati Street; a cleric in the Tehranpars region; and Kheirandish, the supreme leader’s representative to Shiraz’s Agriculture University, and...they all have been beaten up for performing their religious duty of [commanding right and forbidding wrong] and in some cases sustained irreparable damages.”

Beheshti says he didn’t file a complaint against the woman who attacked him, despite going through “the worst days of his life.”

According to Mehr, the case is being reviewed by the judiciary. The region’s prosecutor told the news agency that the case is being investigated but wouldn’t give any details. The prosecutor has referred to the case as an incident of a "public beating."

Of course, when the same type of incident is reversed -- a "badly veiled" women beaten in public by police -- it’s simply a necessary enforcement of the dress code.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari
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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 4
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by: John from: Sweden
September 18, 2012 12:06
Get up, hit hard. Fight back, break free.
In Response

by: Harald from: Norway
September 19, 2012 11:03
Agree. Those old bearded coots should stay inside, read their book and not bother people on the streets.

by: Gary Rumain from: World
September 18, 2012 12:47
LOL! Brilliant.

by: Jane
September 18, 2012 13:56
Thank you for the great story. It made my day.

by: Vakhtang from: Moscow
September 18, 2012 14:11
It is unfortunate that I was not there, I would have helped the woman to send the damned obscurantist longer in hospital..

Unfortunately, in many parts of Russia, ruled by Muslims there are attacks on women whose heads are not covered and the stores that sell wine -blown by gangsters...
But even worse, that in countries such as Iran, nothing can be changed and women are condemned to suffer for many years
.But the fight for the freedom of women must continue, a woman should wear what she likes...
In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
September 18, 2012 14:43
Well well well.high ranking intelligence sources who wish to remain anonymous told me the veiled woman in fact was Vakhtang,masked as a woman-although nobody really knows his sex-The poor georgian guy from Mosscow was on his way to the local turkish bath where he was promised a free flagellation,but unfortunately his burkha fell down,revealing his scarface which caused a fainting in all present moderate muslims.When asked to put on his/her veil properly,the fearless guy/doll from Mosscow started swearing in georgian,which caused a grave misunderstanding.resulting in poor Vakhtang being beaten for free which was what he was looking for originally.Unfortunately,the forum rules prevent me from quoting the dialogue but Vakhtang said something like#@@~~^***++$&&**~~!!!which may be roughly translated as I`m gonna throw up all the neckties I`ve eaten and I`m gonna#%%@&*)++ you !!!
In Response

by: Sergio Meira from: The Netherlands
September 18, 2012 21:36
Man, I don't know what you were smoking, but I'll bet it wasn't hallal. :)

by: bill from: Finland
September 18, 2012 15:43
Dress codes thought up and imposed by men pf course.
I hope these women escape punishment for their heroic stand
In Response

by: Sam from: Eastwindsr new jersey
September 18, 2012 19:26
I wish I was there, I also would have helped this young lady, she is right, who is he to be looking at her, they all have double standards , hypocrites

by: Ashkan from: Washington D.C.
September 18, 2012 17:43
Iran is distinguished by its dismal human rights record and poor treatment of women, as well as ethnic and religious minorities. Iran's citizenry is largely youthful and the current theocracy in place is utterly incompatible with a modern, progressive society. The power-hungry mullahs will continue to impose on the Iranian citizens with brutality. They will continue to further taint Iran, a nation once distinguished for its rich culture and history. It is up to the Iranian people to take back their country and lead it in a new, more modern direction, characterized by a true, authentic democracy. The Iranian people seem complacent, as well as reluctant to fight for change. In the end, it is up to them to decide whether or not they want to reclaim their country.

by: Alidad from: Spain
September 18, 2012 18:02
Just for a change a heart-warming and humorous little story from Iran; I love those clerics who suffered "irreparable harm" while doing their Oh-so-moral duties.. what could the damage possibly be?
In Response

by: Anonymous
September 21, 2012 09:18
Obliterated egos probably

by: JoelB from: USA
September 18, 2012 18:41
Good for her! 'Dress Code' is just one aspect of the tyranny that is islam.
In Response

by: Anonymous
October 06, 2012 14:06
Deuteronomy 22:5
The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.
In Response

by: Paula from: Pennsylvania, USA
October 09, 2012 18:25
Yes, remain anonymous.

by: Parham
September 19, 2012 01:18
Please, somebody correct her English mistakes before her articles are published! Thanks.
In Response

by: Grammar Girl from: Boston
September 21, 2012 23:33
Clearly you have no knowledge of the English language.
In Response

by: Parham
September 22, 2012 13:43
Here, just one of the mistakes -- last paragraph:
"a "badly veiled" women beaten in public by police..."
It should be "a badly veiled woman..."

by: Jen from: Indiana
September 19, 2012 02:13
Restrictive dress codes "to protect women from evil" are just saying: men can't control themselves and shouldn't have to try. It is the ultimate in blaming the victim and the men in that country should try thinking with their brains instead of. . .well. . .the other thing that men seem to think with when they look at women. It's not women's job to hide their beauty as if it is a source of shame. It is men's job to exhibit some damned self-control, and the rest of the men in the world should shame these men into behaving AS men instead of puerile apes.
In Response

by: clara from: Spain
September 19, 2012 11:00
I agree. I am happy that the cleric tested in his own skin the daily harassment women have to stand all through their lives.
I wish I could ask him How does it feel being humilliated?
Religion is a choice, never an imposition. For men who think we all have to be believers and followers of any religion I would appreciate they wear burkhas, especially the ugly ones.
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Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.

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