"Jin, Jiyan, Azadî", - "Woman, Life, Freedom". The protest movement in Iran is now almost six months old, and its motto is more relevant than ever. Equal rights, democracy, a life without fear of the mullahs and their henchmen are the goals of this feminist movement more than 40 years after the Islamic revolution. And yes, it is feminist because this time men from all social classes and ethnic groups are also taking to the streets for the rights of their mothers, daughters and sisters.
The regime responds with the only language it knows: violence - with shots at demonstrators, beatings, rapes and executions.
In response, the EU has passed a series of sanctions packages and expressions of solidarity are coming from all corners: politicians and journalists cutting their hair in front of the camera, the Brandenburg Gate illuminated with "Women, Life, Freedom", or the President of the European Parliament, assuring protesters at a solidarity rally that they are "on the right side of history".
So everything ok? It's worth taking a more critical look, because women's struggle for freedom in Iran is sometimes being misused to stoke outdated anti-Muslim and anti-feminist resentments.
There are plenty of examples from the right-wing corner: MEP Charlie Weimers, a member of the right-wing populist party Sweden Democrats, is calling for the EU to stop funding campaigns that “glorify” the hijab – which he criticized – in view of the protests in Iran However, the campaign merely points out that many girls and women in Europe wear a headscarf of their own free will.
From the AfD it sounds that in Berlin the headscarf should remain banned in public service in view of the situation in Iran.
Anyone who only discovers their passion for women's rights and equal rights when it comes to the headscarf or when it (apparently) goes against Islam is simply living out their Islamophobia - and, yes, also their patriarchal fantasies: A worldview is being jerked into place, in where evil Muslim men oppress powerless women whom the white man then has to free.
But that completely misjudges the situation. Because it is the women in Iran and from the diaspora who are leading the protests. And they fight to ensure that no religion and no man tells them how to dress. They want to decide for themselves whether they wear a headscarf – or not. And that's exactly what women want in this country.
Fortunately, no state in Europe beats women for wearing any clothes. But it remains complicated with us: while some Islamic families put pressure on women to wear the headscarf, other women who decide to wear the headscarf of their own accord have to contend with resentment from the majority society and legal hurdles.
The same applies to us: the woman's body is the scene and object of socio-political power games. And when one of the supposedly oppressed women then turns the object of the debate into the subject of her own story, the white man immediately feels threatened in his self-image, and so do many would-be feminists.
A look at Afghanistan also shows how much the would-be feminists of the right use double standards. In the country directly neighboring Iran, the Taliban have introduced a system of gender apartheid and systematically excluded women from public life.
Even female mannequins have to have a rubbish bag put over their heads or their heads cut off completely. However, there is no widespread, cross-national and cross-party zeal to oppose the disenfranchisement of women there. On the contrary, the AfD parliamentary group, for example, is in favor of dropping all sanctions against Afghanistan and reopening the German embassy in the country - with the sole aim of being able to deport people more quickly.
The onset of winter exacerbates the already difficult situation in Iran. According to the EU foreign service, the required classification of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization is not easily possible - for the regime critic Neda Soltani also a question of will.
Source: WORLD | Nele Wuerzbach
And then there is the wondrous transformation of the CDU. Just recently, Friedrich Merz attacked Annalena Baerbock for months for her feminist foreign policy - unforgettable how he mockingly touched his heart during the general debate on foreign and security policy in the Bundestag when the Foreign Minister said that it would break her heart if the Bundeswehr and a feminist foreign policy would be played off against each other.
And exactly the same men's CDU is attacking the foreign minister today - repeated by Norbert Roettgen and Jürgen Hardt - because her actions regarding Iran are not feminist enough. Suddenly they are so convinced of this miracle of feminism that they believe that the mullahs' regime will soon collapse if the foreign minister just pushes hard enough with her feminist foreign policy.
In doing so, they seem to forget that the enemy of the demonstrators in Iran is based at the headquarters of the Revolutionary Guards and certainly not at the Foreign Office.
But: Feminism that is only attempted when it fits into the world view or one's own political agenda is not feminism. And what is happening in Iran right now is too big and too important for such partisan clamor.
So which way should you go? Precisely the feminist foreign policy that the foreign minister - and with her an ever-growing number of foreign ministers worldwide (yes, men too!) - is currently promoting.
Together with Iceland, Germany has initiated a resolution of the UN Human Rights Council, which strongly condemns the violence against protesters and aims for an independent investigation. Many embassies worldwide were used for this, telephone calls were made and persuasion was carried out. So that the UN stands behind the demand, not just "the West".
At the same time, the Foreign Minister is driving sanctions against the Revolutionary Guards at EU level and making sure that threatened women can leave the country.
WELT Editor-in-Chief Jennifer Wilton finds the term feminist foreign policy "vague". In Baerbock's paper, there would be a lot "that is taken for granted in Western countries". However, there are no answers for the situation in countries like Afghanistan and Iran.
Yes, a feminist foreign policy does not eliminate all the injustices of this world qua declaration. But she consistently takes a look at them, names them and tackles them. Not with the claim to liberate anyone - but to give everyone a place at the tables where decisions about their future are made. Not with the illusion of having all the answers, but with the knowledge and interest in the knowledge of others.
And if you now say: "That goes without saying!" - no, unfortunately it's not. It's an impressive paradigm shift. Just ask those who have not sat at the table and have only been the object of our interests, our fantasies of liberation or our geopolitical power games.
The author is an EU parliamentarian and chair of the EU delegation for relations with the Arabian Peninsula.