The Song For Equal Rights (Iran, 2022)

All great revolutions, some West German authors wrote in the late 1970s, are festivals, exuberant celebrations of liberty and joy rather than strategy and organization. This is what’s happening in Iran, and this is why anyone still enchanted at least a tiny bit by that dream of a free and good life should look with awe at the footage from the streets of Teheran and other cities; not because people protest against the Mullahs (that, too, is to be appreciated) or for women’s rights (again, that, too, matters), but because it’s a celebration of a better life here and now, in the streets. Listen to the songs, look at the video footage; not that of beatings and shootings, but that of people, above all women, dancing in the streets. Look at the young woman, smiling and waving at someone, reaching out (min 0:10), as if she is seducing the viewer into “a more joyful, better world,” a world “without stoning, without gallows, without streams of tears, without shame, without horror.” Look at the girls joyfully dancing and waving the hijabs they have taken off (min 0:15). The women singing in the Tehran subway on 8 March 2018 must have known what might happen to them. And yet, you feel you don’t only see the fear in their faces – who, after all, can tell what the really felt? – but equally their courage and their joy as they join to raise their fists. But perhaps the most moving moment is when two women run towards each other and hug (min 0:59): Did they know each other? Were they strangers until they met and immediately ceased to be strangers?

We – and whoever that “we” might be: those who still dare to dream of a more joyful world, here in the “West” – we shouldn’t just show solidarity, do whatever we can to support those in the streets of Tehran, or call for a “feminist foreign policy” – whatever those might mean – because they fight for what we seem to have: women’s rights, religious freedom, democracy. No, we should look up to them, with inspiration and with all the pathos in the world in awe, because they begin to celebrate something we, too might long for: the more joyful world.