Iran has been rocked by a series of poison attacks on schoolgirls, causing hundreds of students to fall ill. The motives behind these attacks remain unclear, but there are speculations that they may be in retaliation for the recent protests against mandatory hijab laws in the country.
The attacks on female students have been described as an act of “biological terrorism,” sparking widespread concern and condemnation. It has once again highlighted the persistent danger that women and girls face in Iran, where there have been numerous reports of acid attacks and other forms of violence against women.
The Iranian government says it has launched an investigation into the incidents and has taken steps to improve security measures in schools to prevent future attacks. However, many human rights activists and organizations are calling for more action and accountability from the government, urging them to address the root causes of gender-based violence and discrimination in the country.
The incidents have drawn international attention and condemnation, with many expressing concern and outrage over the safety and well-being of women and girls in Iran. The United Nations has called on the Iranian government to take immediate action to protect the rights and safety of women and girls and to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.
Gen Z in Iran, like their counterparts in other countries, are individuals born between the mid-1990s and the mid-2010s. They have grown up in a rapidly changing environment, influenced by advances in technology and global events.
Despite the challenges they face in Iran, including restrictions on freedom of expression and access to information, Gen Z is a highly tech-savvy and digitally connected generation. Social media platforms like Instagram, Telegram, and WhatsApp are extremely popular among Gen Z in Iran, providing a space for them to connect with others, express themselves, and engage in political and social issues.
Gen Z in Iran is characterized by a strong sense of social and environmental consciousness, with many advocating for social justice and climate action. They are also highly diverse, with many coming from different cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds.
While Gen Z in Iran faces many challenges and limitations due to the country’s political and social context, they are also a resilient and adaptable generation. They continue to find ways to connect and express themselves, using technology and social media to share their experiences and perspectives with the world.
Gen Z in Iran has grown up in an environment where ideological narratives have dominated the political discourse for decades. However, with the advent of new technologies and the rise of social media, they have increasingly turned towards post-ideological discourses with a focus on environmental, social, and governance issues. The loss of Pirouz, a critically endangered cheetah cub in Iran, is an example of how Gen Z in Iran is increasingly focused on environmental issues.
One of the key factors driving this shift is the growing awareness of environmental issues in Iran. The country faces a range of environmental challenges, from air and water pollution to deforestation and desertification. Gen Z in Iran has been at the forefront of raising awareness about these issues and advocating for change. They are often referred to as the “Green Generation,” reflecting their commitment to environmentalism.
In addition to environmental issues, Gen Z in Iran is also focused on social and governance issues. They are more likely to prioritize issues such as social justice, gender equality, and political change. They are critical of the government’s policies and often use social media to express their dissatisfaction with the status quo.
Another factor driving the shift towards post-ideological discourses is the influence of global trends and values. Gen Z in Iran is increasingly exposed to global issues and debates through social media and other digital platforms. This exposure has helped them to develop a more nuanced and critical perspective on politics, society, and culture.
The recent protests in Iran against mandatory hijab laws are an example of how Gen Z in Iran is focused on social justice and gender equality issues. The protests began after the death of Jina-Mahsa Amini, a young Kurdish-Iranian woman who died in the custody of the morality police. The protests have spread across the country, with demonstrations taking place in almost all of Iran’s 31 provinces and involving people from various backgrounds, including many young women.
One of the notable aspects of these protests is the role of social media in empowering young women to challenge the country’s patriarchal laws. Gen Z in Iran is using social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram to share their experiences and amplify their voices, often using the hashtag #IranRevolution and #MahsaAmini to document their protests and express their dissent.
These protests are part of a long history of women’s rights movements in Iran, but what makes them different is the way in which young women are using social media to elevate their own agency and challenge the status quo. They are calling for an end to mandatory hijab laws and other forms of gender-based discrimination and demanding greater social justice and political change.
The Iranian government’s response to the protests, including the uncertainty over the disbanding of the morality police, highlights the ongoing tension between the government and Gen Z in Iran. Young Iranians are critical of the government’s policies and often use social media to express their dissatisfaction with the status quo. They are advocating for greater freedom, equality, and accountability from their leaders, reflecting their desire for a more open, tolerant, and progressive society.
Enjoining Good and Forbidding Wrong
In Islamic culture, the concept of “enjoining good and forbidding wrong” is considered a noble act and a religious duty for Muslims. It is seen as a means of promoting righteousness and preventing evil in society.
However, the Islamic Regime in Iran has often used this concept to extend its theocratic rules and views, enforcing certain moral codes and social norms on the population. The regime has been criticized for using “enjoining good and forbidding wrong” to justify oppressive and discriminatory policies, particularly against women and minority groups.
For example, the enforcement of compulsory hijab laws, restrictions on music and entertainment, and the prohibition of social and political activities and other forms of “immoral” behaviour are all justified by the regime as examples of “enjoining good and forbidding wrong.” This has led to controversy and opposition from many Iranians who see it as an infringement on personal freedoms and an attempt to impose religious values on society.
Despite the controversy, many religious and conservative Iranians continue to view “enjoining good and forbidding wrong” as a necessary means of preserving Islamic values and preventing immoral behaviour. However, there is a growing movement of Iranians who seek to balance religious values with personal freedoms and political reform, challenging the regime’s strict interpretation of the concept.
Iran has long been known for its strict dress code laws for women, which are enforced by the morality police. Since its establishment in 1979 in Iran, there have been reports of organized violent attacks on women who do not fully comply with the dress code, particularly with the mandatory hijab laws. However, the issue came to a head in 2014, when a series of acid attacks were carried out in the city of Isfahan, targeting women who were not fully covered in hijab.
Ayatollah Yousef Tabatabai-Nejad, the Friday prayer imam of the central Iranian city of Isfahan, recently called for the public shaming and punishment of women who violate the country’s mandatory dress code known as hijab. His remarks have sparked fears of a new wave of violent attacks against women who do not fully adhere to Islamic dress codes.
Four men were eventually arrested in connection with the attacks, but the Iranian government faced criticism for its handling of the case. Many accused the government of not doing enough to protect women and prevent such attacks from happening in the future.
Using the concept of “enjoining good and forbidding wrong” to enforce conservative social norms is a major concern, as it puts the safety and well-being of Iranian women at risk.
Moreover, the regime’s use of violence to enforce its version of Islamic law has created a culture of impunity, where perpetrators of violence against women are rarely held accountable for their actions. This has led to a climate of fear for women in Iran, who are often afraid to speak out or report such incidents for fear of retaliation.
Fire at Will
The concept of “fire at will” was used by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, in a speech on June 7th, 2017. The statement was widely interpreted as a criticism of President Hassan Rouhani’s centrist government, and it sparked extensive controversy and debate in the country.
Khamenei’s remarks called for “commanders of the soft war” to act in a “fire at will” manner when key think tanks and cultural and political institutions fall into disarray and stagnation. However, in his “Eid al-Fitr” sermon celebrating the end of Ramadan, Khamenei tried to tone down his earlier remarks, clarifying that “fire at will” does not call for anarchy or the violation of civil rights.
Despite Khamenei’s attempt to defuse the situation, several lawyers warned that using the military term can easily lead to breaking the law and the violation of civil rights. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi stated that “Khamenei’s call for the fire at will is [practically] shooting at the law.”
However, several media and military institutions under Khamenei’s direct supervision tried to defuse his controversial remarks, arguing that “fire at will” means encouraging people for cultural activities and calling for spontaneous and upstanding cultural work.
Despite Khamenei’s later softening of tone, his followers within the Basij Militia, the Islamic Revolution Guards’ Corps, and security organizations tend to follow his first remarks as a directive.
Khamenei’s call for “fire at will” has been interpreted by some as a signal to hardline groups to step up their efforts to enforce these moral codes through violent means. The phrase has been associated with the Basij Militia, which has been responsible for violent attacks on protesters and other perceived enemies of the state.
Critics have warned that Khamenei’s comments could lead to an increase in violence and repression in Iran, particularly against women and other marginalized groups. The international community has called on Iran to respect human rights and uphold the principles of democracy and freedom of expression.
While the Islamic Republic of Iran claims to uphold Islamic values, its actions often contradict the principles of compassion, tolerance, and respect for human dignity that are at the core of Islamic teachings.