Expert: The idea that the veil equals backwardness is basically inaccurate
By CGTN's World Insight
“Hijab is compulsory in Iran. But for example, when foreigners come inside Iran, they’ll be surprised. They’ll see many Iranians are fashionable, like women who are having the latest fashions in Europe or the US. We have these colorful sorts of hijab…not like in Iraq or Saudi Arabia where they have a uniform,” said Zeinab Tari, an assistant professor of American studies at the University of Tehran.
His comments come after police in Tehran announced last week that they would no longer arrest women for failing to observe the Islamic dress code, but would make them attend classes given by police instead.
Tari believed there is misunderstanding about what’s going on inside Iran. But Negar Mortazavi, a journalist for Iran International, an international TV channel based in London, when asked about whether there are misconceptions about the country, has a different view.
“Yes, there is a lot of misconception, some of which is attributed to the coverage of the media, but it’s also the access. Let’s not forget the establishment in Iran does not give easy access to international media and journalist to go inside Iran and cover Iranian stories freely,” she said.
When asked about whether more Iranian women will be freed from this religious restriction and completely be themselves, Tari, who is based in Iran, emphasized that the “dichotomy of having a veil society which is more progressive and non-veil society which is backward” is “basically inaccurate and should be questioned by Iranians or any women who are wearing kind of scarf inside or outside the country.”
“If you compare pre-revolutionary Iran, actually the hijab was not enforced and in a sense was not encouraged. You see that literacy rate was very low. That’s why if you compare with the post-revolution, Iran’s literacy rate increases, over 60 percent of graduates are female students, the health issue, the number of children women are now having, the marriage age… all of these have improved since the revolution. I am trying to say let’s not take this reductive approach. They have to reduce all those liberties to hijab; they have hijab, so they don’t have liberties.”
World Insight With Tian Wei is a 45-minutes global affairs and debate show on CGTN. It airs weekdays at 10:15p.m. BJT(1415GMT) with rebroadcasts at 4:15a.m. BJT(20:15GMT).