29 women protestors were arrested in Iran following anti-hijab demonstrations. Holding hijabs aloft on a stick to voice opposition against laws necessitating women to wear headscarves, hundreds of women had taken to the streets.
Though women in Iran have fought the hijab for many years, public protests as well as writing about this topic have not been allowed. In 1979, over 100’000 men and women took to the streets to protest against compulsory hijab wearing. But the laws remain unchanged. Failure to wear a headscarf is a criminal offence, punishable by fines and imprisonment.
Masih Alinejad, a self-exiled Iranian journalist living in the US since 2009, started an online campaign calling for the promotion of personal freedoms, including getting rid of the hijab-compulsion. Because of her outspoken views, she cannot return to Iran for fear of arrest, nor are her family allowed to visit her in the US.
Back in May 2017, she started the #WhiteWednesday campaign, calling on women so send in videos in support of the protests against headscarves. This campaign has garnered support from women all across the globe. Masih also runs the Facebook page “My Stealthy Freedom”. Today, she has over 1 million followers.
Iranian police said on Thursday that women were duped into taking off their headscarves by illegal satellite media sources promoting the #WhiteWednesdays campaign. This led to the arrest of 29 women only days after Vida Mohaved’s – who had been detained in December – release. Following protests, a video of Vida holding a white scarf aloft on a stick, her head not covered, had gone viral.
Veil-Laws a Little Relaxed
In recent months, Iranian authorities have not been as strict when enforcing hijab-laws. Whereas before women would be arrested for not wearing a headscarf while driving, such “offences” have lately only been punished with fines. However, observers believe that this has encouraged Iranian women to push for the removal of headscarf compulsion altogether.
Arrests Highlight Tough Stance of Iranian Authorities
No doubt, recent arrests are an attempt by the Iranian authorities to discourage other protesters and uphold the strict dress code regulations.