It’s always good to see good news after a week of horrifying news. Last week we saw serial acid attacks against eight women in the Iranian province of Isfahan. Today people have poured into streets in both Tehran and Isfahan to protest these heinous crimes.
Four individuals have been arrested in connection with a number of gruesome acid attacks on women that shocked and terrified the residents of Esfahan. […] The first incident was reported Oct. 16. Men on motorcycles allegedly attacked women in their cars. Rumors immediately began to circulate that religious vigilante groups were targeting women with improper hijab. But as the acid attacks, which left the faces of their victims disfigured, increased, some Iranian media outlets reported that some of the victims were from religious families and were not improperly covered.
Today Iranians took to the streets to protests. These photos are taken by the readers of BBC Persian and submitted to that website:
Their report doesn’t indicate how many people were there, but since Iran’s climate is very sensitive these days, the very fact that these protests were allowed to happen with no resistance from the regime is enough cause for celebration. (UPDATE: Obviously it’s a given that people should protest acid throwing, I’m happy that the political climate allowed protests to happen and they weren’t crushed).
Now, the question, were the attacks religiously motivated? Were they organized by parts of the regime or were they spontaneous? As the Al-Monitor report rightly indicates, the regime has reacted furiously against the attacks.
Esfahan’s Friday prayer leader Ayatollah Seyed Youseff Tabatabie-Nejad called the attacks “un-Islamic,” saying that the Islamic command “enjoining good and forbidding wrong” forbids such harming of individuals. He also rejected the idea that the groups who have threatened to take to the streets and monitor women’s veiling were behind them.
But, first of all, any person living inside Iran knows “but they were not dressed improperly” is no good indication. “Proper” dress can be very subjective, and all it takes is one extremist to consider you “improper”. The actual police in charge of dealing with women who wear “improper” dresses proves this as they frequently arrest people with proper dresses.
Also, women are constantly vilified by the regime propaganda, and sexist rhetoric concerning their dress is omnipresent, so when you constantly say women with improper hijab cause earthquake and endanger Islam and the regime and that they are the worst enemies of the society, you don’t get to act shocked when someone throws acid.
If the motive behind the attacks was religious, which is very probable, then whether someone acted out on themselves or a particularly extremist wing of the regime went against the policy, the regime still shares a portion of the blame for constantly attacking women for their dressing choices. They created the hostile atmosphere against the women in the first place.