Symbols are essential for oppressive regimes that are undemocratic and that destroy rights and freedoms. They symbolise those in power, protected and preserved, and are set up as an object to magnify power. The mandatory dress code law in the Islamic Republic of Iran is an example of this.
The social uprising that started on September 13 after Mahsa Amini was arrested on the grounds that she had not tied her hijab in accordance with Islamic rules and then died whilst in police custody is growing by the day. Almost everyone is talking about an uprising against the very foundation of the regime. In fact, the Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad, who lives in exile, claims that the removal of the “mandatory hijab rule” could have the same effect as the collapse of the Berlin Wall. In other words, it is the most important pillar holding the system in place.
The “guidance patrol”, also known as the morality police, started to operate during Ahmedinejad’s term as president in 2005. They’re more present in busy public places, such as parks, shopping centres and squares, to assist the security forces. What are they tasked with? They have the authority to inspect and observe from what people are wearing, to how they act and what they eat and drink. If they detect a situation that they find to be suspicious, they first warn the individual, and if the person causes trouble, they arrest and take them to the police station where the person is given an oppressive lecture on religion. There are even women who are transferred to correctional facilities. Women who are detained can only be released by police to a male member of their families. They are not allowed to leave alone.
Despite the rules, these practices are opposed in Iran to the extent possible, either as part of socio-economic protests or by women, even if they do not always come to our attention. Iranians who risk being exiled from their country or killed under these circumstances never give up their struggle.
This is the very reason there are serious cracks forming in the Mullah Regime. The protests are not only growing in the big cities of Tehran, Shiraz or Isfahan but even in cities such as Mashad and Qom where the conservative government is strong. It’s said protests have broken out in 83 cities.
In the coming days, the government will either be forced to intensify the level of violence against its own people and many will lose their lives or it will have to tone down the level of bigotry. According to experts, the government cannot remain in power if it does not introduce some form of change. However, it has yet to take a step back because the mandatory wearing of the hijab is a serious political symbol.
Now if we turn from Iran to northern Cyprus. The situation here isn’t so bright either. The UBP-YDP-DP [National Unity Party-Rebirth Party-Democratic Party] government’s greatest accomplishment is making lawlessness the rule. Civil society organisations, the Republican Turkish Party [CTP], and the trade unions are exhausted from taking legal action against the steps taken by the government. They [the coalition] don’t care about economic rights, the destruction of the environment or social freedoms. The only thing they are concerned about is destroying social welfare and satisfying their own interests.
They’re ready to display all forms of disgraceful behaviour to achieve their goals. All has been surrendered and the [people’s] will has been undermined, served on a silver platter. The construction of the Külliye [Translator’s note: historically, an Islamic-Ottoman religious-social-administrative complex centred on a mosque, more recently, the name given by Tayyip Erdogan to the new presidential complex in Ankara] is one of the most important symbols that we need to focus on. It’s not just a building; it is the most concrete show of submission to a master. If we jog our memories a little the point I’m trying to make will be better understood. [Translator’s note: Erdogan recently pledged to build a presidential complex in the north, work on which has already begun, despite objections from opposition parties and other groups]
The aim of all this, as claimed, is not to strengthen the existence of Turkish Cypriots [in Cyprus]. The real aim is to further spread [Ankara’s] colonial character to the northern part of Cyprus, to reduce what living space we have left and to say that it is the master of this place.
The appointed president and appointed government are performing their slave duties to perfection. And they are doing it openly right before our eyes. They’re playing with society as a cat plays with a mouse. The issue of giving a six per cent salary raise [for public servants hired after 2011], then cancelling it only to turn around and decide to give it is a good example of this.
This is the scenario played out under the stage lights. Well then, what are we doing about it? Dear friends, a Külliye is not only a Külliye, let’s get that right. We should take up our guard accordingly and take the matter to the streets. A one-time protest is not enough. We need to continue until we achieve change.