Karolina Walczowska, Onet: What is hijab for you as an Iranian man?
Michał Mohammadreza Rezazadeh, Iranczyk.pl: For me, it’s just a piece of cloth, a scarf.
Iranian women have not been allowed to leave their home without a hijab for 43 years. Iranian police beat a 22-year-old girl because she was wearing a wrong headscarf. The woman died in a hospital in Tehran. As it turns out, this is not an ordinary scarf …
According to Islam, the task of a headscarf is to cover the hair so that foreign men are not provoked. The authorities took advantage of this functionality and ordered the wearing of a hijab in order to control people like animals. Don’t give them a choice.
What is this check?
The government believes that people are unable to control their emotions and desires. In their opinion, the exposed hair of a woman will cause them unexpected excitement. Some dirty looks are supposed to lead to intimate consolation. After all, it is absurd and making people animals.
How do you remember your childhood and growing up in Iran, was it called the obligatory headscarf? Did your mom, friends, cousins notice that she is not something they might want to wear, but have to?
My mother never wore a scarf at home, not even in front of visitors from outside. She did not agree with the rules. My parents are educated, normal, but also non-religious. They understood what this law was for. They rooted this truth in us, so there was no discussion. Anyway, now many men think so, which can be seen in the streets – guys protest side by side with their mothers, wives and daughters.
Islam itself is just a religion like any other. It has its role and task to satisfy the spiritual needs of man. Just because hijab is compulsory doesn’t mean that every citizen needs it. You cannot mix religion with politics and rule the country over it. People need science and logic to function, not compulsory religion.
“The West must react”
The tragic death of Mahsa Amini, also known by the Kurdish name Jila, caused gigantic protests and demonstrations. Iranian women burn their scarves and men cheer and clap around them. I asked several people to comment, but each of them was afraid of talking to the media.
I believe that if someone does not speak up today, they have some interest in it, maybe they cooperate with these murderers, they have the blood of the protesting youth on their hands.
My activity on social media and sharing my opinion is a radical response to what is happening in Iran at the moment. If I were in this country now, they would probably at best have me locked up, and at worst and most likely … I would be murdered in the street.
There are people who cooperate with the Iranian embassy or even have the refugee status in Poland and do not want to get involved, express their own opinion, especially opposition. I take the risk and pass on what is screamed on the Iranian streets and what people who want an end to this regime think and feel.
Iran has cheap oil, so the governments of the countries dream of cooperation. Therefore, it is not profitable to walk in with shoes and oppose the policy that has been conducted for decades. When people fight in the streets for democracy, they literally die for it, the president flies to the US to New York for the UN summit. I do not need to remind you how difficult it is for an ordinary Iranian to leave the country, and to the USA in general. Many people cannot visit their family in the States, and Raisi flies there, and as I read in the media, he buys gifts for his family in American stores.
Besides, Emmanuel Macron shook his hand. The Iranian president has made a deal with the West and has returned to Iran, where they murder protesters in the streets. Now the blood of Iranian youth is in the hands of all the politicians who adopted him on this trip.
How do you think the West should react?
And the media themselves do not say enough about Iranians who are straightening and dying in the streets. Iran needs a revolution that could save not only the Iranians themselves, but actually all the people around the world.
“Blood flows through the streets”
Recall that at least 76 people died after violent protests in Iran.
Iranians love their country, they want to live, work and raise children there. Today they go out to the streets to make life better, normally, and they do not come back from this street. At best, they are treated with sticks and pepper spray …
Is that why they stop protesting? Are they tired, afraid for their lives?
Among others. A mosque was set on fire in my city. At first I thought it was the protesters, but no. It was set on fire by soldiers of the Islamic republic to cause confusion and blame the civilians and obtain permission to shoot real bullets. Fortunately, the truth quickly emerged.
This is not just a hijab fight
A choice, not a compulsion, when it comes to hijab, but that’s not all. You express your opinion in a very blunt way on Instagram: you wrote about the death penalty for, among others, homosexuality, sexual relations outside of marriage, about police clothes checks, you called the president a terrorist, you talked about the current situation – about the fact that blood flows in the streets.
This is not all. The country’s inflation is so high that many people are starving. The tax money Iranians pay goes to Syria and Lebanon to fight the opponents of Islam. It is beyond me.
I was in Iran at the beginning of this year and in August – I paid PLN 40 for the same juice, my favorite Iranian cherry juice. In January, it cost about PLN 3.5. Do you understand the difference?
This is not a normal country, but an Islamic dictatorship.
Are you not afraid of the consequences of your attitude?
I am afraid, but I am full of adrenaline, I am motivated to speak by the reports and stories I hear about. If not now then when? We need changes.
You speak in Poland and your brother takes to the streets of Iran. What are your parents saying?
They are not satisfied, but I believe in their hearts they are proud of our attitude.
You live in Poland for five years. Your beginnings are interesting, especially since you were encouraged to choose a country on the Vistula River by Poles traveling around Iran. You came here for a course in 2017, then you went to college. However, you flew to Iran, visited family and friends.
Yes. As I mentioned, the last time I was there was in August this year. My mom had an operation and I wanted to visit her.
Are you aware that the authorities may complicate your return to the country?
I might be able to go in there, but I know I couldn’t leave it. Honestly, I don’t want to go back there, I said goodbye to Iran forever.
You are still an Iranian citizen, even in Poland.
What happened when you were there in August?
I did not feel safe there. I had the feeling that the people who live there also feel a great deal of anxiety. Honestly speaking, I was less stressed when the war in Ukraine broke out and I helped to transport people and things to Przemyśl at the border …
Where was it coming from?
I have long hair, so I avoided walking on the street. A man with long hair in Iran? It’s illegal.
I was also afraid to get in the car, the streets are chaotic and there are no rules. If I were driving in a European, Polish style, someone might not like the ride …
When I was walking with my mother by the hand, the moral police asked what right we do it, what is the age difference between us, who we are to each other. They were under surveillance.
These three weeks in Iran were endless. After a few days, I was crying and missing home. Yes, I, the big guy, cried.
Behind the house in Poland?
Here is my home, in Warsaw.
Do your parents know you crossed Iran?
Of course. They are sorry, but they believe that I have found happiness in Poland and they are happy that I can be here what I want. Here I found the meaning of my worthwhile life, which is being yourself.
You dream about revolution and changes in Iran, but you don’t want to go back there. And your parents dream about what?
My mother said during her last trip that she dreams of having children in the future. I have never thought about it so far, I didn’t plan to have any children. After her words, I began to wonder. Even if I were to have children, I would not want to raise them in such a world where blood is shed for some ideology. I really hope for change, but without the West, Iran will not succeed.