Mahsa Amini’s Death and Hypocrisy Against Hijab in India

For representation only.

Sami Ahmad

NEW DELHI—India and Iran are two culturally dissimilar countries. On Tuesday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Karnataka government, argued in the Supreme Court that ‘even in countries like Iran, constitutionally Islamic, women are fighting against the Hijab’.

Mr. Mehta is not alone in taking a moral high ground on this issue using the unfortunate death, caused by avoidable reasons, of Mahsa Amini in favour of banning the Hijab in Karnataka schools. The 22-year-old Mahsa Amini passed away on September 16 while in the custody of Iran’s female morality police since September 13.

While the Iranian police say she died of a heart attack, her father refutes this claim saying that she had no such complaints. She was buried in her western Saqez which is in the west of Iran where the country faces Kurdish separatist movements.

This is being condemned by the Iranian authorities there. The case is also being investigated. But what is being completely and deliberately ignored in this case is how the Iranian authorities have taken up this issue.

There are many Indian media outlets and journalists sharing video clips of ‘Iranian women throwing away the Hijab and cutting their long hair’ to push their agenda of creating a narrative against the Muslim students of Karnataka who are fighting their case in the Supreme court of India to choose the Hijab as their right.

It is quite an irony that in a country like India where violence against women is so rampant- from killing women for dowry to raping them while in the way for open defecation- the anti-Hijab gang is so pumped up for the rights of women in Iran. There are innumerable cases of police atrocities against women in India but they have chosen an unfortunate case of Iran to paint the entire Iranian establishment as anti-women.

While they support the right of women in Iran to not wear a Hijab, the same people argue against the right of the girl students in Karnataka to their choice of wearing the same Hijab.

What is being reported in the case of the tragic death of Mahsa Amini as opposition to the ‘forced imposition of the Hijab’ in Iran but the same forced imposition of not wearing a Hijab is being defended by the same set of people. The solidarity with Mahsa Amini is fine, but why has this solidarity with Karnataka Muslim girls who want their right to choose to wear the Hijab been missing?

The hypocrisy in the Hijab case is evident. One BJP spokesperson described the Hijab as ‘a disabler’ when she was told that ‘preventing hijab-wearing girls from attending school is communal apartheid’.

One Indian news agency and its editor regularly pushed its agenda on this issue with #MahsaAmini. The editor termed the ‘moral policemen beating ‘unarmed women’ as barbaric but the same editor writes in favour of the Indian rulers and policemen who beat and brutalize its minorities and demolish their homes in different states of the country.

This editor too wrote, “Hijab is a tool of oppression”. What is being done here is deliberately vilifying Hijab while the ‘protest’ is against the forced imposition of the Hijab. It must be remembered that there was a time in Iran when the use of the Hijab was completely banned and police there used to remove it. There is no mention of that coercion of Iranian women today. Thus the hypocrisy over freedom to choose is further exposed.

And this hypocrisy is common in the USA too. English Daily Tehran Times wrote in a report that statistics show that every year 50 American women are killed by police violence. “However, we don’t see any U.S. officials condemning that! Sheer hypocrisy.”  It reported, “From 2015 to 2020, about 250 women have been killed by direct gunfire from American police.

The reference to the Hijab controversy in Iran by the solicitor general Tushar Mehta may also be considered an intrusion into the internalmatter of the country.

There seems to be a pattern in the Indian media following what is being fed from Iran’s bitter opponent the United States of America. The USA is at the forefront of using the tragic death of Mahsa Amini to force its anti-Iran agenda. As Mahsa Amini was a Kurdish, this issue is being fuelled to support the separatist movement of the Kurds in Iran.

The report of the same USA on religious intolerance in India is trashed by the Indian media which is blindly following its rhetoric of it in this case. Tehran Times reported that Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kanaan has reacted to the meddling stance of some officials of the US, EU and other countries regarding the death of Mahsa Amini. 

The paper said, “Kanaan offered condolences to Mahsa Amini and her bereaved parents and family. He stressed that necessary orders have been issued by the highest executive, judicial and legislative officials of Iran to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into this tragic incident.”

The paper quoted Kazem Gharibabadi, an assistant to the judiciary chief in human rights affairs, saying “The Islamic Republic of Iran is serious about clarifying the circumstances of this case. There will be no tolerance in this case, and it will be followed up quickly and accurately, and the rights of this Iranian citizen and her family will not be lost.”

What is being blacked out by these Indian journalists is what Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has done this in this regard. Mr. Raisi called Amini’s family and had a fairly lengthy conversation with her father and condoled saying, “Your daughter and all Iranian girls are my children.”

He added “I learned about this incident during my trip to Uzbekistan, and I immediately ordered my colleagues to investigate the matter in a specific manner. I assure you that I will follow this issue from the responsible institutions so that all its aspects are clarified and no rights are violated.”

Iranian parliament speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf has set up a committee to thoroughly investigate this unfortunate incident. Qalibaf vowed to reform the morality police’s approach while saying that the death of Mahsa Amini left a deep sorrow and reiterated that it was necessary to carefully investigate and inform all aspects of Amini’s death.


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