Rusari Turned on Its Head

In a new Iranian resistance movement, men are posting pictures of themselves wearing women's head scarves as a political statement in support of Majid Tavakoli, who, days after his arrest for anti-government protesting, was pictured in published news photos wearing a chador, the "black head-to-toe garment worn by Iranian women." The photo was also juxtaposed with a decades-old image of the first president of Iran in its post-revolutionary iteration, Abolhassan Banisadr, who was accused of wearing a women's head scarf to try to evade arrest. Tavakoli has no links to Banisadr, with the exception of their both having been accused of dressing as women to escape authorities (and both of the images being generally regarded as faked propaganda).
Within hours of the Fars report on the arrest of the 22-year-old protester, men both inside and outside Iran responded using a what appears to be a new tactic for the opposition -- they began posting pictures of themselves online wearing head coverings that are mandated for women in the Islamic republic.

..."They (Iranian government officials) use a standard cliche to try to humiliate men, as if being a woman were something bad, and thousands of Iranians respond by posting these pictures, showing there is absolutely nothing wrong with women or veiling," said [Hamid Dabashi, professor of Iranian studies at New York's Columbia University], who is a supporter of the arrested protester, Tavakoli.

...A blog that focuses on religion and politics in the Muslim world -- -- interpreted the juxtaposition as being an attempt by the authorities "to humiliate [Tavakoli, using] an old practice by the government to prove to the public that the opposition leaders are 'less than men,' lacking courage and bravery."

One commentator on that site wrote, "It is ironic how [the] head scarf, which was traditionally seen as a symbol of women's oppression ... is now being used by men to show membership in a liberation movement."

...Alongside his own photo on Facebook, Dabashi describes the varied shades of meaning that this particular form of protest holds for him, referring to his rusari, the loosely tied head scarf that covers only the hair.

"Proud to wear my late mother's rusari, the very rusari that was forced on my wife in Iran, the very rusari for which my sisters are humiliated if they choose to wear it in Europe, and the very rusari that the backward banality that now rules Iran thinks will humiliate Majid Tavakoli if it is put on him -- He is dearer and nobler to us today than he ever was."

...Dabashi said the head scarf protest is a way of showing the same solidarity against a system that came into being after the Iranian Revolution.

"We Iranian men are late doing this," Dabashi said. "If we did this when rusari was forced on those among our sisters who did not wish to wear it 30 years ago, we would have perhaps not been here today."
Blub. (Emphasis mine.)

[H/Ts to Iain and Shaker Sunnyhello.]

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