Like all good stories, it starts with a woman.
I like to imagine that she was ordinary. She pursued a degree. Married a kind man. Raised two sons. And began each morning with a cup of tea and fresh bread. She was not the aged activist. She was not the impassioned youth. Surely, not the type to start a movement. And yet.
On a busy street, with a quiet confidence, there she stood. Though no words were spoken, the message was undeniably heard. The challenge against the law- the government was made. Waving her removed hijab in the warm air, Vida didn’t falter. She didn’t cower. Even when they came. Even when she became one of the 7,000 Iranians facing arrest.
They’re calling it Iran’s ‘year of shame.’ Throughout the year of 2018, a sudden wave of protests began against the “poverty, corruption and authoritarianism” of the Iranian government. Amnesty International describes the Iranian authorities response to this civil disobedience as a “shameless campaign of repression.” Peaceful protestors were met with “live ammunition, tear gas and water cannons” from the very people meant to protect them. Unionists, lawyers, students, journalists were arrested. Some were given prison sentences. Some mysteriously died in custody. Some flogged. Some lashed. Some tortured. None silenced.
Since her release, women and men, have followed her example. They call this rebellion, the Girls of Revolution Street. Finding raised structures in public places, they stand waving their hijabs. Sometimes, alone. Sometimes, in company. Always with the expectation of their arrest, and what may come with it.
The Iranian people- the mothers, the students, the blue-collared, the ordinary- have decided that their rights aren’t up for negotiation. That wearing a hijab should be optional. That they should be paid well for the work they do. That they should be paid at all. That they should practice their faith without fear of discrimination. That their humanity should be respected.
I believe this is the climax of a good story.
And like all good stories, it ends with redemption.