Iranian women take off hijabs in public to protest law

Iranian authorities have released hundreds of protesters who were arrested during anti-government demonstrations that erupted across the country late last month, Iran's interior minister said on Tuesday.

Following the example of one woman who became a symbol of popular protest in December, Iranian women now are standing on telecoms boxes and removing their headscarves.

Some have posted hijab-less photos on a Facebook page founded by exiled journalist Masih Alinejad, whose call for women to wear white scarves and protest the hijab on Wednesdays appears to have been behind Movahedi's protest.

A widely shared smartphone image of the first protest showed a young woman standing on a telecoms box on Enghelab Street in the centre of the Iranian capital.

The massive uprisings in Iran from earlier this year may be over, but women across the country are still protesting the state enforcement of the hijab.

According to the Guardian, a second woman identified as Narges Hosseini was arrested on Monday morning after imitating Mohaved's act. A hashtag about women's role in social change, roughly translating to #GirlsofRevolutionStreet, was also trending on Iranian Twitter.

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The Islamic dress code, in place since the 1979 revolution, considers veiling obligatory for any female above 13 in Iran and says they should cover themselves from head to toe while disavowing any figure-hugging dress.

"Women show their opposition to such forceful approaches by their very clothing, from resisting covering their hair to wearing long boots and leggings", she wrote in a series of tweets this week.

As images of Iranian women holding their hijabs aloft spread on social media, an influential activist said women are symbolically rejecting the wider "interference of religion" in their lives.

"This should be seen as part of a larger struggle of Iranian women for equality and to have control over their own bodies, and can even be traced back to women's resistance of forced unveiling during the reign of Reza Shah", said Sussan Tahmasebi, an Iranian women's rights activist.

The law mandating the hijab has been, and a head scarf is obligatory for every woman in the country, even tourists and visiting foreign dignitaries. Despite the fear of reprisals, millions of women in Iran defy the restrictions on a daily basis.

  • Rita Burton