Just before the protests in late December and early January, an 31 year old Iranian woman by the name of Vida Movahed stood outside and waved her hijab on a stick in protest of the country’s hijab laws. Since then, more women have stood up in defiance of the strict dress code; 29 women have been arrested for their crime of appearing in public without a hijab. Not only are these women outside without their required headscarves, they are standing in prominent places and waving their hijabs around in open protest.
Many are rallying through social media, with hashtags like #WhiteWednesdays, #FreeHijabProtesters, #IranProtests #MyStealthyFreedom or #Hijab. During the recent protests that were about all sorts of issues, including Iran’s struggling economy and skyrocketing unemployment rates, the government shut down multiple social media platforms. They have done this before in the past, as well as other quelling techniques, and the world watches to see how they will handle the hijab protests as they continue. They have considered creating a “halal internet,” or a “halal-net” that is completely internalized and carefully controlled, known some places as a “walled garden.”
The laws regarding hijabs have been beginning to relax recently, incurring fines instead of jail time or receiving a warning from the religious police. However, the laws remain and that is what many aim to change. The woman on the right of the featured image is protesting right outside the Islamic Revolutionary Court, and she said on Twitter: “They arrest my sisters who peacefully protested compulsory hijab.Here I am in front of Enghelab Court waving my veil to say I am not scared of your person.”
— Farnaz Fassihi (@farnazfassihi) February 4, 2018
This strict dress code has been enforced in Iran since the Iranian Revolution in 1979. The country went from being regarded across many Muslim nations as a “liberal” Islamic nation to one of the stricter ones. Ayatollah Khomeini, the new supreme leader of Iran at the time, directed all Iranian women had to follow a strict Islamic dress code. The new supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has not changed and the protests in late December and early January also called for him to step down. Many believe that the days of religious law in Iran ought to be over, especially the ones that govern the basic rights and choices of the people.
Masih Alinejad started the #MyStealthyFreedom and #WhiteWednesdays campaigns, and she said that breaking the hijab law “imposes a maximum of $12 or two months of jail time, the court has recently asked for a bail of $125,000 to release one of the newly detained women.”
Some men have also joined the protests by holding up a white flag in solidarity with the protesting women.
Featured images courtesy of Twitter.