Posted on: October 30, 2022 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Iranian Americans rally in Washington, D.C., in September in support of protests in Iran.

By Lily Ligeska, Features Editor

Women-led protests spread like fire across Iran after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini was killed recently by Iran’s morality police for not wearing her sacred headdress: the hijab. In honor of Amini, women are burning their headscarves, rioting, and shaving their heads. They are risking their lives and condemning their families’ names, all for change in the future of Iran.  

Photo by West Asia News Agency
Protestors in Tehran, Iran, ignite a police officer’s motorcycle in response to being teargassed.

Amini was visiting the Iranian capitol with family when she was taken into custody for allegedly violating attire policies. On Sept. 19, she was later assaulted and killed while in hands of the police. Afghanistan and Iran are currently mandating hijabs for all women, regardless of religious beliefs. Government policies assure that their citizens comply, going as far as detaining those who do not.

While women here in the U.S. and in other parts of the world seem to have more freedom, those who wear the hijab often feel misunderstood, stereotyped or pressured to conform one way or the other.

Moraine ECE student Areej Ali describes being stereotyped while traveling: “When I go to airports, something goes wrong every single time. The people who check out luggage always assume we are carrying something. This one time I went, and security was quite rude and stopped us.

“They touch my hijab, mess up my hair. I understand it’s part of safety protocol, but they took it way too far.”

Sometimes security even goes as far as separating Ali from her mother, making Ali feel uncomfortable, like she is “being treated like an animal.”

A hijab is a headscarf often worn by Muslim women, wrapped around their neck, scarf and chest. Much like a cross is used by a Christian, or a yarmulke by Jews, the hijab is a religious statement. It’s a rite of passage signifying the change from girl to woman.

“I don’t even think about wearing it too much anymore,” said Haanan Atef, a health studies major at Moraine. “It’s just a daily part of me. I started wearing it because I was jealous of all the other girls, and I thought, ‘Oh, I want to wear it too.'”

Photo by
The #HandsOffMyHijab movement went online in France when women were no longer allowed to represent their culture.

Northwest of Iran, Paris passed a law in 2004 denying young Muslim girls the right to wear hijabs to school. Furthering this denial, the “anti-separatism” bill surfaced in 2021, declaring it unlawful for any girl under 18 to wear a hijab. Some critics of the bill have called this a breach of religious freedom, according to FRANCE 24.

“It’s messed up honestly. It should be someone’s personal choice,” said Reem Abdeljaber, fine arts major at Moraine.

The goal of this bill was to make women equal to men in France. While this law may have been enacted to rule out misogyny, women around the world protested, calling it a “law against Islam,” as it took a hit at the world’s fastest growing religion.  

“In countries like France, I don’t understand why they’re so afraid of us being modest and covered up,” Ali said. “There are people who wear tons of different and unique things, so I don’t see what the problem is with me being more covered up than less. They shouldn’t ban me over a piece of my cloth.”

In America, women still have the right to wear a hijab or not. However, Ali believes people are still too judgmental about that choice.

“It’s a women’s right to choose what she wants to do with her body,” Ali said. “Whatever she wants to wear is her choice, and I do notice a lot of people judge women for their choices.”

America is supposed to be the home of the free, allowing self-expression and freedom of speech. Yet many Muslim women still feel stares while expressing themselves. “I get stared at weirdly all the time,” Abdeljaber said.

Atef has decided to take a philosophical approach: “I’m the type that ignores everything. I’m sure I get looks all the time, but I don’t notice anymore. Other religions and other cultures have different things to wear, and it’s just representing their heritage.”

The women’s movement is empowering. Feminism has taken the world by storm, with citizens around the world advocating for women’s rights. This includes the power to act the way she wants, love who she wants, make her own decisions, and now the ability to wear what she wants.

“Women should be treated equally based off whether or not they wear it,” Ali said. “It doesn’t define who they are, based off what they’re wearing.”