Editor’s note: A version of this story first appeared on CNN’s newsreel around the same time in the Middle East, a three-times-a-week look at the region’s biggest news. Register here.
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
An Iranian woman is seen crying while kneeling next to the coffin of her deceased brother cut her hair with scissors. Her relatives weep for justice as she throws her strings at the coffin.
They were grieving for 36-year-old Javad Heydari, who was fatally shot last week in one of the anti-government protests that swept Iran.
Images like these prompted women around the world to join Iranian women protesting the death of Iran 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. She died in hospital on September 16, three days after being taken off the streets of Tehran morality police He was taken to a “re-education center” to receive lessons in modesty.
From the Middle East, Europe and across the United StatesIn rallies and demonstrations, women around the world expressed their solidarity with the plight of Iranian women. Some also cut or shave their hair in public or while filming.
Now on their twelfth day, swept protests More than 40 Iranian cities, including the capital, Tehran. Iranian security forces have cracked down on the protesters, with hundreds arrested and at least 41 killed, according to state media. Some human rights organizations put the death toll as high as 76. CNN cannot independently verify these numbers.
Why do women cut their hair?
For many Iranian women, cutting hair is a sign of beauty I decided to be hidden In the Islamic Republic – it is an influential form of protest.
“We want to show them that we don’t care about their standards, their definition of beauty or what they think we should look like,” said 36-year-old Faiza Afshan, an Iranian chemical engineer who lives in Bologna, Italy. who was photographed shaving her hair. “It is to show that we are angry.”
Afshan attributes the practice of hair cutting to historical cultural practices. “In our literature, a haircut is a symbol of mourning, and sometimes a symbol of protest,” she told CNN. “If we can cut our hair to show we’re angry…we will.”
This practice was cited in the Shahnameh, a 1,000-year-old Persian epic and a cultural pillar in Iran written by Ferdowsi. Composed of nearly 60,000 verses, the poem tells the stories of the kings of Persia and is one of the most important literary works in the Persian language. In more than one case through epic action, hair is plucked in mourning.
“Women cutting their hair is an ancient Persian tradition…when anger is stronger than the power of the oppressor,” chirp Welsh-based writer and translator Shara Atashi. “The moment we have been waiting for has come. Politics is fueled by poetry.”
In the Shahnameh, after hero Siavas was killed, his wife Varangis and the girls accompanying her cut their hair in protest of injustice, Atashi told CNN.
The characters depicted in the poem are “used on a daily basis as symbols and archetypes,” she said, adding that the poem helped shape Iranian, Afghan and Tajik identities over a millennium.
“But there are haircuts in Hafez and Khaqani’s poetry as well, always about mourning and protesting injustice,” she said, referring to other Persian poets.
This practice is also common in other ancient cultures. The Epic of Gilgamesh, a 3,500-year-old poem from ancient Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) covers themes of grief and despair, with hair being cut or pulled out to express anguish. The poem is considered one of the oldest literary works in the world and is said to have influenced neighboring cultures.
Shima Babaei, an Iranian activist based in Belgium, who said she was arrested by Iran’s notorious morality police in 2018 for publicly removing her hijab as evidence of protest, told CNN that the haircut has “historic meaning” for Iranians. She said that women who lose an immediate relative may sometimes cut their hair as a sign of mourning and anger.
“For us, Mahsa was our sister,” she said. “So, in this way, we are protesting.”
Atashi said the haircut “is itself a mourning ceremony to expose the depth of suffering at the loss of a loved one.” In today’s context, she adds, it is a sign of “protesting the killing of our people.”
Saudi king appoints Mohammed bin Salman as prime minister
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz has appointed his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (known as MBS) as the kingdom’s prime minister and his other son, Prince Khalid, as defense minister, according to Saudi media.
- background: The Crown Prince was promoted from Minister of Defense and was the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia for several years. Khaled previously held the position of Deputy Minister of Defense. The official Saudi Press Agency reported that Mohammed bin Salman said the kingdom has increased its self-sufficiency in military industries to 15% from 2% and plans to reach 50% under the newly appointed defense minister. The decree showed that King Salman will continue to preside over the cabinet meetings he attends.
- why does it matterMohammed bin Salman has radically changed Saudi Arabia since he rose to power in 2017, as he spearheaded efforts to diversify the economy away from its dependence on oil, allowing women to drive and curbing the powers of the clergy. But his reforms came with the suppression of dissent, with the imprisonment of activists, members of the royal family, women’s rights activists and businessmen.
Turkey summons German envoy after politician likens Erdogan to a ‘sewage rat’
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry summoned the German ambassador in Ankara on Tuesday to protest statements made by a senior German politician who likened President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to a “little sewage rat,” Reuters reported. “We condemn in the strongest terms the insulting statements made by Wolfgang Kubiki, Vice-Speaker of the German Federal Parliament, about our president in a speech during the election campaign of Lower Saxony,” Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic said in a statement. .
- backgroundKubiki confirmed to Reuters that he made the comment during a campaign rally while trying to draw attention to the rising number of illegal immigrants moving from Turkey along the so-called Balkan route towards Germany. “The sewage rat is a small and gentle creature, but at the same time it is clever and cunning that also appears in children’s stories,” said Kubiki, citing the popular animated film “Ratatouille” as an example.
- why does it matterTurkey is a candidate for EU membership, but negotiations have long stalled amid disagreements over a number of issues including Ankara’s record on human rights, immigration and geopolitics. Insulting the president is a criminal offense in Turkey, where Erdogan and his ruling party have been in power for two decades.
At least 4 Palestinians were killed and dozens injured in one of the deadliest Israeli raids in the West Bank this year
at least Four Palestinian men Palestinian officials said an Israeli military raid on Jenin on Wednesday morning wounded 50 others, making it one of the heaviest Israeli raids in the occupied West Bank this year, which has already seen more than 100 Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers. The Israeli military said the raid was linked to an attack in Tel Aviv in April that killed three people, and that the suspects responded with explosives and gunfire on Wednesday.
- background: For months, Israel has been raiding cities in the West Bank, with a particular focus on Jenin and Nablus, saying it targets militants and their weapons caches before they have a chance to cross into Israel and carry out attacks. The operation, dubbed “Breaking the Wave” by the Israeli military, was launched after a series of attacks on Israelis. At least 20 Israelis and foreigners have been killed in attacks targeting civilians and soldiers in Israel and the West Bank so far this year.
- why does it matter: This is already the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since 2015, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. More than 35 of the dead were in Jenin. Israel says most of the dead clashed violently with soldiers during the military operations, but dozens of unarmed civilians were also killed, according to rights groups including B’Tselem.
Henna, a reddish-brown dye popular for body art in many parts of the Middle East, may be on its way to joining UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
In the process of being nominated by the United Arab Emirates and the Arab League, henna has long been part of heritage and identity in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.
Temporary dye dates back thousands of years and is used to create elaborate designs mainly on one’s hand, often for festivals and religious ceremonies.
Representatives from 16 Arab countries met this month to discuss the nomination, according to the Abu Dhabi government media office, stressing that henna plays an important role in Arab and Gulf culture and identity.
UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage includes both inherited and modern traditions, and aims to promote practices that contribute to “social cohesion” and encourage a shared sense of identity.
The list includes practices such as falconry, yoga and calligraphy.
Written by Nadine Ibrahim
“Infuriatingly humble analyst. Bacon maven. Proud food specialist. Certified reader. Avid writer. Zombie advocate. Incurable problem solver.”