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Sehaty Foreign Exchange


March 21, 2000

Why wear the hejab?

Reading your feature on "Why women don't learn Karate" brought back my experience with similar questions as my daughter was growing up. I guess it also provoked ideas and thoughts about how an answer to a simple question of our children can influence them and us. It is quite a common sense fact.

Nastaran is 13 now and her questioning of the world and its politics has changed. Also she was born in Iran and lived there for nine years which will make it all different from other Iranian children born outside of Iran.

When she was very young and was living in Iran it was a question of wanting to wear the hejab as a sign of being an adult. She could not understand why we are wearing the dress code outside the home but she did not have to wear it. Her plays at home at times required wearing a scarf and a manteaux. Later on looking at old pictures or movies came the questions about why women wear the scarf in Iran and how is this different from the past and other places?

I guess my answer to her and my non-Iranian friends has always been along this line that it is the law in Iran. You might not like it or agree with it but it is the law. You always have the choice of breaking it, but then you have to also consider the consequences.

In a completely different context I have given the same answer. In 1983 as I was going through one of those so-called ideological interviews in Tehran in order to be able to continue my work, I was asked the same question by one of the two interviewers. Do I wear the dress code because I really believe in it or do I pretend? With the connotation of being dishonest. My answer was basically the same: it is the law to wear it and I am following it.

With all respect to my good friend Yasaman J, reading and enjoying her previous conversations with her son in The Iranian , I think the two different kinds of answers require different possible reactions. For one it is up to the young to make up their mind and look into options for changing it? The reality of majority versus minority, how to go about in order to make changes and conduct a dialogue and discussion instead of ... are other issues. Well, I know that I am influenced by what is happening in Iran these days

Yasaman Mottaghipour


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