The Woman Who Started A Revolution

   In Islam, the importance of the hijab goes far beyond a simple headscarf. It stands for a woman’s connection to her faith and serves as a liberation from vanity and selfishness. And, the most common, is associating the hijab with modesty. In Arabic, the word “hijab” means “barrier,” and that’s exactly what it is: a barrier shielding women against extramarital affairs. While it has legal rules bound to it, the hijab also puts women in control. The hijab compels men to focus on personality rather than a woman’s body, and it de-emphasizes the importance of appearances.

   Although the hijab was a symbol of strength for women, now it is becoming a symbol of oppression, a fabric that veils women from the world. Especially in America, those who wear the hijab live in fear due to the negative stigma surrounding it. The role that the hijab has taken is as a symbol of a woman’s subjection to her husband.

   Junior Kaitlyn Wong shares her opinion on how women who choose to wear the hijab should be accepted:

   “This country was founded on freedoms and different ways of expression. People often express themselves religiously through clothing, like Christians wearing a rosary. Religiously, hijabs are important because it’s part of the religion, just like going to mass on Sundays is important for Christians and Catholics. I know [hijabs] are important for modesty and I think that’s an important concept especially in religious cultures. Personally, I think hijabs are important in this current political climate because I think they help our country become more accepting of outside religions and cultures with people wearing hijabs becoming common in communities. Hopefully, our country as a whole can become accepting and considerate of other religions and cultures,” said Wong.

   Aside from the controversial issue that hijabs should be banned, there is another argument: women don’t want to be forced to wear hijabs anymore. A single act by a bold and courageous thirty-one-year-old woman was the foundation for the recently emerged wave of protests in Iran. The busy Enghelab Street of Tehran was the setting of Vida Movahed’s quiet yet powerful protest, as she removed the hijab covering from her head and attached it to a stick. She fearlessly waved the scarf and stick like a flag to display her message among the crowded street. Her message being that women should have a choice—the choice of either wearing the hijab or opting not to.

   These popular sentiments of unhappiness towards the many restrictions Iran has on the women have served to highlight the widespread issue of women’s equality within Iran. Since 1979, it has been mandatory for women to wear hijabs in public. Nearly 40 years later, women are still being forced to cover their face to protect their modesty. They believe men go after women based on how inviting a woman’s outfit is; thus, the compulsory hijab rule was put into action to protect women. And now, Islamic women want a reversal. However, getting past the cultural and societal binds with the hijab is difficult. Restricting women like this and putting them under societal pressure is exactly what causes a feeling of powerlessness.

   Junior Kyra Leetz shares her opinion on the controversial protests that have divided Iran:

   “Many women crave to reclaim their bodies and by removing their hijab they feel they are accomplishing that liberty. Wearing a hijab should be your choice, because whether you wear it or not, just having the choice is empowering,” said Leetz.

   Although the anti-government protests have stopped, women continue to protest against the interference of religion affecting their personal lives.