Every year on the third week of Advent we are invited to sing Mary’s liberation song with her. Few words have ever been spoken that are more radical. Few words have ever been spoken that are a greater threat to the status quo of Empire. Say them aloud if you dare…

And Mary said,

‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
48 for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him from
generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has
scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our
ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants
for ever.’ (Luke 1:46-55)

Proof of the power of these words is how the powers of Empire responded to them. Empire’s Herod fearfully and lovelessly responded with the systematic state sponsored murder of the innocents. Unjust and oppressive regimes rule by fear and therefore the one thing they fear more than anything else is that people will no longer fear them. Brutal clamp downs of uprisings are clear proof of this fear. We see this in Iran at the moment. Brave and courageous Mary-like-women no longer afraid to reveal their faces and sing of their freedom while the spirit/wind blows through their hair. This terrifies regimes of terror. This freedom campaign against #ForcedHijab in particular and oppression of women in general will be overcome one day.

Five years ago on 17 October Yasaman Aryani, dared to take off her hijab and practice her civil disobedience as part of #WhiteWednesdays campaign. She is paying a heavy price in prison. Even from jail she issued a statement to support Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old Iranian woman who on 16 September 2022died in a hospital in Tehran, Iran, under suspicious circumstances. The Guidance Patrol, the religious morality police of Iran’s government, arrested Amini for not wearing the hijab in accordance with government standards.

One exiled journalist and activist from Iran, Masih Alinejad says: “The truth is I am not the one they are scared of. They‘re scared of us drops becoming a river … You’re scared that people are no longer scared of you and they can rise up. Whichever woman hears me she sees that our voice is heard worldwide. She feels powerful because she can become a state in her own right. Because Islamic Republic isn’t the real choice of Iranians. Because our elections are a sham.”

Long live the liberating spirit of Mary – long live.