Wednesday, June 24, 2009

And Just Like That...

Of all the images that have been bootlegged out of Iran over the last eleven days, this is the one that has captured me. Haunted me. Begged for my attention... Not only is this unnamed woman beautiful, and a splash of striking color and unfettered passion on the landscape of what was - on this particular day last week - growing civil unrest on the streets of Tehran...not only is she all that, she is also wearing a bracelet that looks almost exactly like one I wear. And so, just like that - I am there. This is no longer the face an Iranian woman. This is simply a woman - one like me. A woman who shops for fresh vegetables, rocks crying babies, dreams of romantic evenings, ponders the best lipstick shade, devours political headlines, prays for peace, stands up for what she believes in...and wears silver bracelets. I am there. But I worry, as I begin to imagine myself in this woman's shoes, that I might not be brave enough to take to the streets of Iran, even if the outcome of the presidential election guarantees continuation of the religious capture of my rights as a citizen, a wife, and a human being. Am I courageous enough? This woman has already cast aside her chador - the formless black semi-circle of cloth that Iranian women must drape themselves in whenever they are in public. You can tell she has left the chador behind because her arm is wrapped in a sleeve. Chadors do not have sleeves. Could I be so bold? She has not uncovered her head, so she is not yet standing in complete defiance of the clerical law of the land, which requires all women—even Jewish, Baha'i, Zoroastrian and Christian women—to veil. If they do not, they are subject to imprisonment, flogging and even death. Good compromise to keep the head covered, I'm thinking...but throw on a bright color. Now, as I place myself there, I am feeling emboldened. I put on my bracelets. I grab my girlfriends who also participated in the One Million Signatures campaign over the last three years, and we show up on the streets of Tehran with a message for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: You may steal our election, but you cannot take away our hope and our spirit and our determination. We are here on behalf of all women - our mothers, our daughters, our nieces, our sisters, our granddaughters. Deal with us. And then the news of Neda Agha Soltan hits the internet Saturday. The video of her eyes turning upward toward the camera as she takes her last breath on the street we have just walked together kicks us in the stomach and brings us to our knees. Suddenly women become easy targets in the gathering of protesters, as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad begins to strictly enforce previously loosened dress restrictions. Thousands of women are arrested or intimidated because they do not adhere precisely to Islamic dress code on the streets. I am sure I stay inside now. My chador is hanging at the ready by the door, my bracelets are in the jewelry box. And I am certain that with every breath I am praying: Ahmadinejad must not be recognized. Because I am there. Peace.

2 comments:

AnarchyCat said...

i really loved you're post ! it's so full of passion and truth !

beautiful photo too !! great work !

strick said...

Every time I read http://thinkinginpeaces.com/ I wonder why I let so many days pass since my last visit to Mama de la Paz. Every time.