How do we define normal? Who counts as normal and who doesn’t? Modern slogans, for instance, assert that it’s “normal” to be a nonsmoker, and it seems normal to have warm weather in summer and cold in winter. But are the actions of the majority normal? Even if they objectively harm the environment or a minority, which, according to said majority, is not normal?
The U.S. has decided not only to play world cop, but God. It is dead set on designating which countries behave like “normal states” and which do not. I’m thinking of the case involving Iran, the country with the oldest roots on the planet, roots that reach back to nearly 5000 B.C. Yet a superpower that has existed for only 240 years plus or minus is supposed to judge it?! A superpower that built its greatness, among other things, on European immigrants who killed off native inhabitants while enslaving African Americans, and then, in the last century, created a neo-Nazi racist cult like the Ku Klux Klan. And police officers, especially in Southern states, still kill African Americans to this day, often just because they’re black. Does that strike you as normal?
Of course, Iran isn’t perfect either. I wrote in my first column after returning from this year’s vacation in Iran that women are, from a central European perspective, senselessly prohibited from singing in public, but it later turned out this was only half true. Yes, singer Negar Moazzam was summoned to court last month after singing for a tourist group in Isfahan province. She received the citation even though, according to CTK, singing in public is not banned in Iran.*
The Human Rights Activist News Agency, which deals with individual violations of human rights in Iran, has also stated that there is no concrete law in the Islamic Republic prohibiting women from singing alone in public. But authorities break up such performances, the agency says. It’s also true that Iranian television and radio will not broadcast women’s vocal solos, which is why female singers often publicize their creative works on platforms like Instagram and Telegram.
CTK also reported that Iranian police recently arrested 30 people for taking part in mixed-sex yoga lessons. That is to say, it’s also prohibited in Iran for men and women to engage in sports together. Yes, all these things are certainly not normal for us. But it’s also clear Iranians don’t regard as normal many things on display in the so-called civilized West. One could write about countless examples. So, “let he who is without sin…”
*Translator’s note: CTK is the Czech Press Agency.