A minister in the self-proclaimed feminist government of Sweden has been attacked for mocking the struggle of women’s rights activists in Iran.
Magdalena Andersson, a finance minister, was taken to task for comparing a fancy hat she chose to wear to the compulsory hijab laws which oppress women in the Middle Eastern theocracy.
Andersson was responding to accusations of hypocrisy after members of her government – who claim to have a “feminist foreign policy” – were shown submitting to religious law and putting on veils during a recent visit to Iran.
She posted an image on Facebook of herself and other ministers wearing hats – and said that they had to wear them because it was part of the dress code for state visits.
Her point was that they “had” to cover their hair – just like women in Iran.
However, this only worsened the rift with Iranian activists, who responded by saying that women who break religious dress laws in Iran are attacked, harassed and arrested as a matter of course.
(For instance, this month Heat Street reported on a 14-year-old girl who was beaten up and punched in the face for wearing ripped jeans).
Masih Alinejad, who runs the My Stealthy Freedom anti-hijab campaign, wrote an impassioned response on Facebook, and attacked her for “making fun of” their struggle:
Her post said:
You claimed that wearing headscarf in Iran is the same as wearing a hat in Sweden. Are you serious?
By showing us pictures of yourselves in hats that downplay your act of wearing the compulsory veil, you are actually insulting all women who have been fighting against compulsory hijab.
By blurring the distinction between both, you are banalising what Iranian women have to endure on a daily basis. Stand by your sisters and do not hesitate to grill our rulers about this discriminatory law… we would have loved to see you stand your ground and preach the feminism the same way you do it in Sweden.
Andersson later deleted her post and apologized, according to the Swedish Expressen newspaper. She admitted the post was “not good” but said she her comments had been “misunderstood” and she wanted to withdraw them.