One of the most remarkable sites on Facebook is My Stealthy Freedoms. It is a site on which Iranian women post photos of themselves, without any head covering, so you can see their hair.
I know. What?
What is so remarkable, is that something so innocuous has gained 869 000 likes.
That’s eight hundred and sixty-nine thousand.
I love the looks of sheer delight on the faces of the women, and the accompanying stories of where the photos were taken and how they managed to avoid the eyes of the ubiquitous morality police. They also report more harrowing stories of horrors committed against women in Iran.
It is considered so subversive that the Iranian government has labelled it the work of foreign spies. It even went so far as to publish a bizarre false story that its founder, Masih Alinejad, an Iranian journalist living in Britain, was assaulted, stripped naked and gang-raped in the presence of her son. The apparent implication of this – that she brought such an outcome on herself – is an indication of the authoritarian nature of the Iranian regime, and the depraved, warped view of human nature of its purist Shia Islamic doctrine.
Furthermore, the fact that a site displaying women without head coverings can arouse so much support from ordinary people, but provoke such an over the top response from the Iranian government, is exhibit A in the case that there is something seriously wrong with the Islamic Republic of Iran, and why it should not have nuclear weapons..
One has to ask the question why a Facebook page which has gathered nearly one million likes, about such a controversial subject both in the West and in the Middle East, is not a major news story. I argue that it is because it contradicts the dominant progressive narrative that racist Westerners are racist toward Muslim women who confront racist bigoted Western culture with subversive foreign culture. The desire to be free of head coverings, or to at least have the freedom to chose whether or not, and it is a very strong “not,” to chose, resonates among Muslim women themselves. And the fact that it is not a major news story in the West undermines the narrative that Muslims in the West face unrelenting assault against their religion, culture and identity.
It also tells us that ordinary Muslims yearn for freedom and democracy, that freedom and democracy are natural human desires, not arrogant imperialistic concepts invented by degenerate Westerners, and there is hope for peace between our two civilisations. But on the flip side, it reveals the catastrophic waste that was President Obama’s decision not to throw the American government’s support behind the Green Revolution in Iran in 2009. It was a once in a generation, hell, perhaps a once in a century opportunity, to foster democracy in Iran.
But, as the Iranian government continues its inexorable path towards developing nuclear weapons and an inevitable confrontation not just with Israel but with every one of its neighbours, there is one more thing we can be sure of.
Iranian women have courage. And many of the, are quite cute.