Tuesday, July 24, 2007

BYU. Iran. Byu...

I found an interesting article this morning regarding the fashion crack-down going on in Tehran, Iran. As you'll read below, the Iranian government has placed fashion gestapo, women no less, on the streets of Tehran to enforce religious (and fashion) law among Tehran's women.

At issue are women who dress too fashionably! The best part of the article was the picture, which I'm sure will bring to mind, at least with some of you, scenes that are commonplace in BYU's Student Center, or the library, or anywhere on campus.

Look at that poor girl! And the look on the face of that old bag who's accosting her for not dressing within the dated view of what a religious authority deems "appropriate." This is priceless.


It all starts with one simple sentence, spoken almost in a whisper, but which has a thunderous effect.

A female police officer deployed in Tehran's latest moral crackdown tells a woman that her manto (overcoat) is too short and infringes Iranian Islamic dress rules.

"Azizam (my dear), good afternoon, if possible could we have a friendly chat, please allow us to have a small chat," the officer, a graduate of Tehran's police academy, tells the young woman.

"My dear there is a problem with your manto. Please do not wear this kind of manto. Please wear a longer manto from now on."

Some are just let go there, but others are escorted to waiting minibuses with dark black tinted window panes and labelled "Guidance Patrol."

A girl in a short white manto whose long hair was tumbling out the front of her headscarf is taken by the police to one of the minibuses on Vanak Square in central Tehran -- an unexpected and unhappy end to her shopping trip.

Another arrested woman is already inside the bus. She begins to cry. "I promise, I promise!"

And the minibus doors slam shut.

Tehran's police have said they are operating a three stage process in implementing the new wave of a crackdown on dress deemed to be unIslamic, which started with some intensity on Monday afternoon.

First, women are given a verbal warning on the street. If the problem is not resolved there, they are taken to the police station for "guidance" and to sign a vow not to repeat the offence. Should this be unsuccessful, their case is handed to the judiciary.

"Sure my manto is short, but there are many others whose clothes are more seductive than mine and they walking by without any punishment," one of the arrested girls in the minibus complained bitterly.

The arrested women will now go to a "centre for combating vice".

Their parents will be phoned and they will bring a longer coat and fuller headscarf for their daughters. If the young women sign the pledge they will then be released.

"We want our words to have an effect on people," a female Iranian police officer, who by law was not allowed to give her name, told AFP before being dispatched to take part in the crackdown.

"Our method is through guidance and via words. We do not face an instance that prompts us to be physical. We do not have any bats or sprays, in the toughest instances we may grab her hand and 'guide' her to the minibus," she said.

"I am doing this it as it is my duty and my job is supported by the religious teachings," another women clad in the black chador uniform of Tehran's female police added.

A girl confronted by the female police for having overly short trousers and transparent stockings apologizes.

"I am wearing stockings but, sorry, they are too light. Sorry I will change them, definitely I will change them. Now can I go?"

Not everything goes so smoothly.

One young passer-by rounds on the police for devoting such resources to moral crackdowns rather than other social problems as the minibus -- now filled with "badly veiled" women -- speeds away to the police station.

"Shame on you, look what you've done! The people's problem is not this, go fix your traffic situation, people are stuck in traffic for hours, go fix other real problems," she shrieks.

There was already considerable controversy inside Iran when the first stage of the "plan to increase security in society" was launched in April.

Many conservatives have applauded the drive, but moderates have publicly questioned whether Iran would be better off tackling poverty and crime rather than slack dressing.

Just before the new crackdown started, popular television host Farzad Hasani grilled Tehran's police chief Ahmad Reza Radan about the drive on his talk show, accusing the police of "not differentiating between people and thugs."

An old woman in a black chador in Vanak Qquare echoed the sentiment.

"Our youth have no peace of mind. They are afraid to go out, they are afraid that if they go out they will be taken to the police. Aren't they saying that there is freedom?"


c. samuelson said...

yeah, that's just like BYU--except people choose to go to BYU.

Anonymous said...

like that makes it right? come on, cec. you might have some homeboys on campus who buy into your self fulfilling prophecies, but this is the real world. welcome.

c. samuelson said...

I clearly should have typed "TIC" next to my post.

Wake up Anon, there is a fundamental difference between BYU and Iran: people choose to attend to BYU and sign the friggin' Honor Code, committing themselves to a certain standard of living. Meanwhile, back in Iran, PEOPLE HAVE NO CHOICE.

Individual consent gives BYU and its rules and regulations legitimacy. In fact, the legal proximity between an individual signing the Honor Code and abiding my its rules is far closer than even the democratic consent we give to this country and the obligation to live by its laws.

What idiot signs the Honor Code while simultaneously complaining about or outright flaunting its rules? How does this make sense?

Again, back to Iran, what passes for elections in that lunacracy are a complete joke, and laws like the one described in this post by Ben violate the Rule of Law.

Therefore, his attempts to compare BYU to Iran and your attempt to defend that comparison = complete joke. But I guess the joke is on you if you don't get it.

Benjamin Treasure said...

I would argue that the BYU student does not have to fully consent to the Honor Code. What you're supposing, "c. samuelson," is that the BYU student does not have the right to make objective complaints and criticisms of the institution. You don't sign your life away by enrolling in classes at BYU, but you agree to adhere to a certain set of principles. However, I would argue that it is the charge and even the moral responsibility of those within the system to improve it - a system that in my view, is in many ways contradictory to the principles of the Church.

What would really be a joke, Mr. C, is a situation where dissenting opinions were silenced at a school within the borders of a Constitutional Republic.

Also, pretty much everything you've ever posted on this blog has been along the lines of self fulfilling, overtly religious philosophy. What we're trying to establish here, what I am trying to establish, is a dialog and debate on the merits of those items discussed - not a moral critique and judgment of those discussing them. No sir, that would be something you'd be more apt to find on BYU's campus "soap box" - something I'm SURE you're familiar with.

Benjamin Treasure said...

What's more, the tone you're using, C, is just further reinforcing the ridiculousness of a system where, on BYU's campus AND in Iran, it is appropriate for people to condemn their peers for the clothing they wear. Ridiculous! Apparently this is a scenario that is acceptable to you.

Worrying about what other people wear, on an institutional level, is insane. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that you probably have a lot of time on your hands?

I'm inclined to suggest that we, as human beings and as members of the BYU community, would be more productive for society by placing our attention and intellectual energy on matters of real consequence.


No, I'm not opening the door for you to launch into the tired argument of the destruction of times and the decay of moral values. While I agree with some of that thought (some), I will not allow you to use me as your whipping post on those lines. And yes, I know that was going through your head as you read the first few sentences of this comment. You've hardly kept your cards close, S. Mariner. I read you well.

And btw, what's up with the fact that we only hear from you when there's a clear avenue for you to take a moral high ground. You never comment on anything literary, and only once have you left anything positive. Come on, man! You're better than that, right?

Austin said...

I think we all can acknowledge that a person's clothes can and often do reflect their moral character. Think t-shirts with obscene phrases, or tops that reveal more skin than they cover, or the most obvious example, the "wife beater". It is very much in BYU's interest to protect it's moral character in practice, but also in appearance. Public opinion of the institution, both external and internal, have a real and immediate impact on the school. Students of course have their right to dissent, but in the end, they conform or leave. And the dress code isn't some antiquated relic outlawing personal expression and individual difference. It is a simple moral imperative to preserve the traditional values BYU represents. It does change with the times, just as any student on campus today would be clearly distinguishable from any student 40,30,20, or even 10 years ago, but the principle of protecting traditional values remain the same.

What I'm saying is, while the Iran and BYU situations may appear superficially similar, their differences run much deeper.