In Msreading Iran, on 7 November, I argued that:
The sanctity of the individual, the inviolability of the individual, is facing off directly against exactly that which makes Islam totalitarian: every Muslim is supposed to police every other Muslim. For Islam to be toppled in Iran, women have to lead the charge, not because of some feminist fantasy, but because they bear the brunt of it and have to liberate themselves. Freedom given is not freedom; it is dispensation, it is favour, and can just as easily be taken away….
Of course, everyone can see that it is men meting out instant justice to the men who assault woman, and that men tell the cleric not to shout at women and to leave them alone, but note that this "commanding the right and forbidding the wrong" comes not from the notorious Morality Police, the representatives of the regime, but from the mullahs, the representatives of Islam. Nowhere are women as abased as they are in Islam. Iranian thinker, Mansoor Hekmat, put it this way:
In Islam, …the individual has no rights or dignity. In Islam, the woman is a slave. In Islam, the child is on par with animals. In Islam, freethinking is a sin deserving of punishment. Music is corrupt. Sex without permission and religious certification, is the greatest of sins. This is the religion of death. In reality, all religions are such but most religions have been restrained by freethinking and freedom-loving humanity over hundreds of years. This one was never restrained or controlled. With every move, it brings abominations and misery.
Islam is not alone in its brutal subjugation of women. In Russia, with its recently-legalised wife-beating, as well as in China, where domestic violence is not even a concept, the violent subjugation of women is deeply embedded in culture. This is the case also in large parts of India. No one seems able to see beyond whatever their orthodoxy requires them to endorse. Thus do we find, over the last few days, the “feminist revolution” fantasy again coming to the fore.
Caroline Glick and Banafsheh Zand
It did not bother famous Israeli journalist Caroline Glick in the slightest that during the entire forty-two minutes of her 13 December The Women’s Revolution in Iran interview with Banafsheh Zand, billed as “a journalist and a researcher and is both well-versed with the issues of the history of the Iranian women and also with current events,” the word Islam was not uttered once, either by interviewer or by interviewee, not even as an adjective. When an Iranian woman supposedly right in the thick of things for decades, fails to mention that Iran is an Islamic Republic, that it is ruled according to Shari’a (except obliquely) and that Islam singles out women for special spite, cruelty and oppression, and still be gingerly handled by one of Israel's supposedly tough journalists, one is forced to wonder whether Islam is a taboo topic for Glick, as it has become for so may in the West, as, for example, the Democratic Party in the United States. This absence of Islam from the discussion is curious given how Glick introduced the Iran segment:
When you see the Twitter files, on the one hand, that expose the FBI's central role in censorship on social media platforms …you understand that this really is the most critical time in the lives of our democracies. It's do or die. …This is the most important challenge that we face and if we don't pass it, I fear for what will come in the future. So with that in mind I want to turn to …how the Iranian people are in the streets and being killed and willing to give their lives for freedom.
To Glick’s credit, she did try to get something useful out of Zand:
Caroline Glick: It’s the sort of thing that you would expect for Western women across the political spectrum to be standing up and shouting about, but none of that is happening. But on the other hand, and this is really the point, not just the hypocrisy of so-called Western feminists, but also that against these women is always another woman with a chador all in black. So even when they’re being attacked by men with rifle butts, there’s a woman in the picture wearing a chador pushing them into the rifle butt. It's also this clash between the regime-supporting women and the women who want to be free. So there’s this dynamic. Do you think that it’s at play as well today with the women leading the revolution? Are there also women in the front lines of the regime opposing them, or have they faded out?
Banafsheh Zand: “No, there are plenty of women within the structure of the regime who are who hate all of what's going on and recently even Khamenei's own sister and his niece have spoken. Actually they've been speaking for many many years it's just that they've been, you know, they've been shut out of everything and the Western media has chosen to ignore them. On the topic of the disappointment of the of our women Iranian women's disappointment uh on the western women's silence I have to tell you we've even had moments which have been incredibly important and could have been at just as effective as they are now had our Western friends been more conscientious. I'll give you an example…”
This is as bad as Maryam Namazie: don’t answer the question; deflect onto something else; run out the clock. It is all righteous indignation and nostalgic sentimentality. Zand did mention Shari’a when she proudly recalled, “A  movement that Iranian women, emancipated women, were trying to gather signatures in order to push the idea of relenting on the Shari’a laws and letting women have jobs and, you know, basically stand up on their own two feet the way all women want to.”
Not Shari'a, not relenting on Shari'a, not even the idea of relenting on Shari'a, but “to push the idea of relenting on the Shari’a laws.” This reminds me of government officials in apartheid South Africa promising "to undertake to endeavour to attempt to try." You are a woman in an Islamic Republic and you think you are going to push ideas, let alone ideas of relenting on Shari’a? If it were up to women like this, there would never be a revolution in Iran. It is unclear why anyone would be interested in what Banafsheh Zand has to say on the events in Iran, other than that she’s a feminist. Surely, even feminists must see that she has nothing to say. Glick is very good on all perils facing Israel, except Islam. So much for Twitter files exposés on censorship. The ooh-we-must-not-mention-Islam approach extends to instances such as the Democratic Party in the United States, of whom better cannot be expected, but also to some commentators who definitely should know better.
[Part 2: Armin Navabi]
- Mansoor Hekmat, Islam and De-Islamisation, interview with Negah, January 1999 http://hekmat.public-archive.net/en/3140en.html
- During my years in Shanghai I have, more than once, had to place myself physically between a man and the woman he was beating up. When I shouted at the man to fight me instead, he backed down, perplexed. The saddest part is that afterwards, they always walked off hand-in-hand. How very much like Islam.