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Iranian women fight back

Golnaz Esfandiari, who blogs at Persian Letters, writes about an Iranian cleric in the city of Shamirzad who “politely” told a woman he considered improperly veiled to cover herself up.

“She responded to me by saying: ‘You [should] close your eyes.’”

The cleric, who spoke to the semi-official Mehr news agency, said he repeated his warning to the “bad hijab” woman, which is a way of describing women who do not fully observe the Islamic dress code that became compulsory following the 1979 revolution.

“Not only didn’t she cover herself up, but she also insulted me. I asked her not to insult me anymore, but she started shouting and threatening me,” Beheshti said. “She pushed me and I fell to the ground on my back. From that point on, I don’t know what happened. I was just feeling the kicks of the woman who was beating me up and insulting me.”

He said he was hospitalized for three days following the attack.

I’m not a supporter of violence, but as a woman who grew up in Iran and was harassed many times for appearing in public in a way that was deemed un-Islamic, I understand the frustration that woman in Semnan must have felt and why she lashed out at the cleric.

I’m not a supporter of violence either, except in response to violence or threats of violence. But in this case, I’ll make an exception.

Mehr reports that attacks against clerics similar to the one involving Beheshti are not rare. The news agency issued the names of three other clerics, including a representative of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who have been attacked.

“…Hojatoleslam Seyed Mahmud Mostafavi Montazeri in [a street] in Tehran; Hojatoleslam Farzad Farouzesh, the Friday Prayer leader of Tehran Medical Science University, on the capital’s Shariati Street; a cleric in the Tehranpars region; and Kheirandish, the supreme leader’s representative to Shiraz’s Agriculture University, and…they all have been beaten up for performing their religious duty of [commanding right and forbidding wrong] and in some cases sustained irreparable damages.”

Beheshti says he didn’t file a complaint against the woman who attacked him, despite going through “the worst days of his life.”

If he continues harassing women for the way they dress, may he have many more such days.

In other fighting-back news from Iran, Esfandiari posts this photo, reportedly of the front gate of the Russian consulate in the Iranian city of Isfahan.