The Ayatollah had mandated a form of hijab that was heavy, dark and clumsy. Women who accidentally revealed a spot of skin – perhaps a sudden flash of ankle, neck or wrist – could face fines, jail, or worst of all, acid attacks, initiated by the Ayatollah’s fleet of guardians who patrolled the street on motorcycles.They would zoom by the offending woman, throw the acid on her, and race away, leaving her writhing in pain, shamed, and scarred for life.Sima Goel has been a practicing chiropractor in Montreal since 1994. Fleeing the Hijab: A Jewish Woman’s Escape from Iran. When pro-extremists in my city of Shiraz took it upon themselves to hurry the Shah’s departure, one of their tactics was to foment social unrest. On that particular day, I was playing volleyball during recess when I saw a group gather around a Baha’i friend. The more radical of our group was taunting her, saying that it was a pity that her house had not been burned as well. “How can you to tell her that her house should have been burnt as well?
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Every member of an Iranian minority knew that the freedom to live – and even flourish – was predicated on remaining small and silent.
I knew that I was not free to be myself – to voice my opinions, to read what I pleased, to listen to music that called to me, to walk in the streets with my head thrown back and be a girl, a student, a Jew.
To be a Jew and a thinker in Iran in the late 1970s meant that the individual had to live as a slave in relative liberty, within the dictates of her masters. In 1978 I was 13 years old and I slipped out of my father’s house to join university students demonstrating against the brutalities of the Shah. As my ambitions were primarily academic, I truly believed that my desire to live a life without restraint could never harm me, or bring harm to others.
I thought that by adding my voice to the cry of “Long Live Freedom! When the Shah was replaced by the Ayatollah Khomeini, whose regime imposed cruelties and restrictions as yet unheard of in my country, one tyrant was replaced with another.