By Azam Kamguian
Today, in commemoration of the International Women's Day, we, freedom - lovers and passionate advocates of women's rights have gathered here to protest against the mandatory veiling of women in Iran.
For us, the veil is not just another kind of clothing; and opposing it is not just defending the right to freedom of clothing even though it is put forward as such. Veiling internalises the Islamic notion in women that they belong to an inferior sex, and that they are sex objects. It teaches them to limit their physical movements and their free behaviour. Veiling is a powerful tool to institutionalise women's segregation and to implement a system of sexual apartheid. It signifies the subjugation and servitude of women based on Islamic doctrine and Koranic teachings.
Much more than a way of clothing, hijab is the manifestation of an outright Islamic misogynism and an antiquated view on women's status. It is designed to control women's sexuality much more effectively than any other religion or ideological system.
Furthermore, during the last thirty years, hijab has been and continues to be the political and ideological symbol of political Islam, Islamic states and Islamic movement in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia. Women have been the first - hand victims of this reactionary movement, and imposing the veil on women by Islamic movement and Islamic governments has been their fist bloody action to suppress the whole society.
Against imposing the veil on women, there exists a massive social movement of resistance and defiance of women in Iran. Hijab has become a highly serious issue for the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Therefore, on the international women's day, in protest against hijab, we declare that:
· We fight for the abolition of compulsory veil , alongside the women's equal rights movement in Iran,
· We struggle against the violent actions of Islamic Republic including flogging and imprisonment to impose hijab,
· We consider dress freedom as a basic right of people,
· We believe in banning the hijab for girls under 16, as it deprives them of a happy, equal and active life, and violates their basic human rights,
· We, alongside people in Iran, fight against the rule of sexual apartheid,
· We consider secularism as a pre - condition for women's liberation; we alongside the majority of people in Iran, fight for freedom, secularism and separation of religion from the state,
Down with the Islamic Republic of Iran!
Freedom, Equality & Universal Rights for Women in Iran!
Kamguian's speech given at rallies held on 8 March 2001
of embassies of the Islamic Republic of Iran in London
-UK, and Helsinki - Finland.