Iranian protestors using the right not to wear a hijab as a weapon has mobilized a significant social movement, showcasing the potential of weaponizing rights in conflicts and providing an innovative option for US Army special operations forces in irregular warfare and strategic competition.
Demonstrations broke out across Iran in September after the death of a young woman, Mahsa Amini, at the hands of the morality police. The protestors’ primary grievance is the 1981 law mandating that women wear a hijab, and the right not to wear a hijab has been a powerful weapon for them, resulting in the largest social movement in Iran since the 1979 revolution. Using rights as weapons is not a new concept and has been explored in Dr. Clifford Bob’s book, Rights as Weapons: Instruments of Conflict, Tools of Power. This theory can offer an innovative option for US Army special operations forces to gain an advantage in irregular warfare and strategic competition. Rights have historically been viewed as the honorable ends of noble conflicts, but they can also be leveraged and manipulated as means or ways within greater struggles for power.