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Iran: Secularism in Iran

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Women never remained silent

Women in Iran are probably the class that has been most affected by Islamic laws after the 1979 revolution. Hijab became compulsory for all women. Islamic polygamy for men, marriage with kids, and deprivation of many social and political rights became official law. But the Iranian women’s movement never remained silent. On the first International women’s Day in 1979, many women ran the first anti-compulsory hijab demonstration. This was one of the first attempts by women in Iran to stand against the Islamic sexists laws. But the Islamists could successfully change the law by means of mass brutality against women.

Now, after more than forty years, the women’s movement is louder and much stronger. Many anti compulsory Hijab movements, such White Wednesdays, or My Camera, My Weapon etc. are organized and run by young women’s rights activists. The number of organizations outside the country who are focused on women’s issues, such as Women’s Revolution Organizations, and many others, have dramatically risen during the past decades. Iranian women are more presumptuous than any time before to talk about equal rights, resisting compulsory hijab, having sex before marriage, exposing their personal lives, disobeying official Islamic laws, to singing and dancing both in public places and at private parties.

According to official statistics, more girls than boys attend universities in Iran. The number of advanced courses in Master or PHD occupied by females are also higher. But due to censorship by the Islamic regime there are no valid statistics to show the percentages of the Iranians women who believe in a secular governmental system.

 An enormous and undeniable anti-Islam movement

Atheism seems to have become very popular among the young generation, despite the fact that leaving Islam is punishable by death due to Iranian Islamic laws. According to a recent survey by the Gamaan organization, based in the Netherlands, half of Iranians have turned atheist over the past decades. We can also mention musicians, painters, photographers, Instagram influencers who create anti-religion contents, who have millions of followers. Shahin Najafi, the Iranian Rock-Rap singer, DubsMash artists such “Ghul Akhar” or “Tina Bakhshi” with thousands of followers, the female Iranian painter, “Sayeh Sohrabi” who create art based on female nude body and women’s rights are examples of anti-religious celebrities. According to authorities in Iran, the number of Iranians who make jokes about the prophet Muhammad and Imams have risen. They have also confessed that many Iranians do not go to mosques and do not practice Islamic rituals.

On the other hand, the secular movement is a great threat and fear for the Islamic regime. The budget the authorities spend on suppression of those who do not practice Islamic rules, such as girls who do not fully wear hijab, or those who drink alcohol or those who eat and drink during Ramadan, has risen over the past years. The regime also pays special subsidies to many Universities, Institutes, Book Publishers, Bloggers, Imams etc. both inside and outside Iran, in Middle East Europe, and North America, to promote Islamism. However, the authorities have confessed many times that their policies have not achieved what they had planned for, and that the number of Iranians who leave Islam for secularism is increasing.

Iran has an enormous and undeniable anti-Islam movement. We, at the Central Committee of Ex Muslims in Scandinavia, receive many messages from Iranians inside the country who would apply for asylum. However, the voice of the people who seek secularism is not fully heard by western politicians. Multiculturalists still insist on religious identity of the masses, and therefore deny Iranian’s legitimate demands for secularism. Phrases like western or eastern values, respecting mass religion, labeling secular activists as Nazis or Racists, etc. are overused. But the time for change in Iran and the whole region has come. Listen to the voices of the people, and stand on the side secular movements.

Milad Resaeimanesh

Central Committee of Ex Muslim in Scandinavia Spokesperson

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