Azar Majedi writes on the repression of women by the religious regime in Iran.
Gender apartheid is an important pillar of an Islamic regime. Women in Iran, and men too, have fought hard and long to break this reactionary and outdated pillar for the past 40 years. Banning women from entering football stadiums is part of this archaic rule. Many young women have entered the stadiums in men clothes for years, one who became internationally well-known was Sahar or the “Blue Girl”, who was imprisoned and later burnt herself to death.
When the news of Sahar’s self-immolation hit the world, there were outcries everywhere condemning IR and demanding that women be allowed to enter the stadiums, among them FIFA*, which gave a statement threatening IR that if it refused entry to women it will be banned from international matches. Finally, IR supposedly bowed down and last week assigned 3500 tickets of an 100,000 seat stadium to women. Some women rushed to buy the tickets to Iran-Cambodia football match. Amid tight security, women took their seats in an otherwise almost empty stadium in a cage looking space circled by full-veiled women security; Some 50 IR mobs protesting their entry as blasphemy. This is a mockery of women’s freedom. The mockery comes to a height when pictures are published showing women spectators holding and waving IR flags.
International media jubilantly published the “good” news as an important reform by the IR; FIFA proudly acknowledged the move. Some women organisations in Iran went as far as calling it “the Blue Girl’s achievement!”
Women’s Liberation a staunch enemy of the Islamic regime
Forty years ago a women’s liberation movement was born and never stopped fighting the IR. Many women have lost their lives, been imprisoned, and stoned to death by this regime for demanding their equal rights and freedom. Around two decades ago a so-called reformist movement, one which we Worker-communists have called state-reformist, was formed to deviate this movement from its radical path. State-reformists, i.e. the national-Islamist movement tried hard to create stumbling blocks in its path. They are quite savvy; they started a so-called Islamic-feminist movement in Iran. They exported their pundits around the world and bought some time-servers in the media and academia to herald a new era in the Islamic movement; an era of women’s movement among the Islamists. This oxymoronic term might sound a great innovation to some; but, in fact, it was a laughable invention by the Islamic Regime’s ideologues. This movement was short-lived as the radical, maximalist women liberation movement ruthlessly exposed it.
Soon after, another discourse was introduced by the media and academia: Cultural Relativism. In the era of post-modernism, this savvy invention became the dominant discourse for nearly two decades; a real regress to all human values and ideals for which humanity has fought long and hard. “Islamophobia” was added to the list of the Islamic ideologues’ inventions, taking hostage the consciousness of decent and egalitarian humanity. Again, we fought hard to expose “cultural relativism” for what it was: a reactionary and oppressive term, under which abuses and violations of women’s rights, children’s rights and egalitarian values took place.
However, IR and the Islamic movement which it created and spread worldwide did not stop creating false narrations and discourses. Defending Islamic regime by its paid pundits, both national and international, have tried to give false narratives of the demands of the people in Iran and falsifying the image and demands of the radical socio-political movements.
Trivialising the vast movement in Iran against gender apartheid and the Islamic veil is a recurrent theme in the international media. The BBC and Voice of America Persian are dominated by the exported IR’s pundits; they have become the mouthpiece of IR, spreading State-reformist propaganda, trying to make this narration the dominant one in Iran.
Now, coming back to the so-called reform of the opening the stadiums to women; it is in this general political context that the latest move by the IR should be analysed and judged. Moreover, one must consider the general political situation in Iran. It is nearly two years that a popular movement to overthrow the Islamic regime has taken over the society; the popular uprising that regardless of its brutal suppression by the regime and its ups and downs has refused to give in; and more importantly the rise of the working class movement demanding a free, equal and prosperous society for all has become a dominant force; a movement that has given a clear voice to an egalitarian demand, that is, to rule the society by workers’ and people’s councils.
IR’s latest action is a desperate move to quell the popular unrest and the women’s liberation movement; this action is similar to the throwing a piece of bread in the face of a revolting people demanding an end to hunger and destitute. It must be stated that we are for any reform to improve people’s lives and struggle to that end. However, this is not a real reform but a total farce, an act that is too little and has come too late. This is why we condemn all those exported pundits who herald this action as a victory. Those who have become so self-righteous that try to teach us a lesson in freedom of speech by tweeting that the right of expression by the IR’s mob in front of the stadium should be respected!** Alas! As though we freedom-loving and progressive forces who have been imprisoned, tortured and murdered by this regime have been preventing the freedom of expression! We do live in an upside down world and we must, as Marx so beautifully said, turn it on its base.
We ask all freedom-loving and egalitarian people to be vigilant and refuse to accept these false narrations. Women in Iran want and deserve complete and unconditional freedom and equality. We will not stop at anything less. Support us to overthrow this regime and in its place create a better world, a world free of any inequality which respects unconditional freedom of speech and expression; a free, equal and prosperous society for all.
* It is worth mentioning that in the campaign to open the stadiums to women; a petition was written to FIFA and was signed by some progressive activists asking FIFA to take action against the Islamic regime to put an end to the ban. FIFA is one of the most reactionary and corrupt institutions of the present world. The story of its corruption, taking huge bribes is a well-known fact; moreover, many migrant workers who work under slave conditions to build the world cup stadium in Qatar have fallen to their death and FIFA has turned a blind eye to this brutal and inhumane catastrophe. Progressive movements should never resort to a reactionary institution which is part and parcel of the dominant system for help in their struggle.
⏭ Asar Majedi is a Member of Hekmatist Party leadership & Chairperson of Organisation for Women’s Liberation