Iranian women use Facebook to protest compulsory headscarves

Lys Anzia – WNN Breaking

Iranian woman without hijab
An unidentified Iranian woman let’s her hair ‘blow in the wind’ as she takes off her hijab (headscarf) outside as part of her personal online protest on Facebook against Iran’s dress code for women. Image: آزادی های یواشکی زنان در ایران

Story update: As of Monday May 19, 2014 the Facebook page Stealthy Freedoms of Iranian Women has 309,126 likes with 350,475 talking about this.

(WNN) London, UNITED KINGDOM, WESTERN EUROPE: When Iranian woman journalist Masih Alinejad started posting on her Facebook page about the freedom she felt not wearing a hijab (headscarf) she didn’t know then she was starting an online revolution.

Over 180 thousand Facebook likes later Iranian women are posting pictures of themselves with their hair flying free of any policing. The new Facebook page, which is called in Farsi آزادی های یواشکی زنان در ایران (Stealthy Freedoms of Iranian Women), is also using the hashtag #mystealthyfreedom.

In the last few days this campaign, which started a little over a week ago, has become an international vortex of support for the freedom for all women in any religion to be free of compulsory hair covering.

“This campaign is a reflection of resistance of Iranian women to discriminatory laws and compulsory Islamic dress code,” says WNN – Women News Network reporter on Iran, Elahe Amani, who is also a global peace activist  and mediator. Amani is also often asked to add her ‘Iranian perspective’ with interviews for other major news publications.

“Iranian women are creative, brave and committed to demanding their human rights through dignity. They should not be treated as second class citizens,” continued Amani.

“Whether this mass social behavior is a tipping point or not time will answer. As data expert Malcolm Gladwell says, ‘The…magic moment [is] when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire’,” she adds.

Cartoon supporting no hijab for Iranian women
A recent cartoon by award winning Iranian cartoonist Touka Neyestani shows a woman in a cage with a lion who is not happy, but silent as a woman stands without her hijab in the breeze as strange men look on. Image: Touka Neyestani

As part of a generation of laws that forbid women to show their hair in public, numerous women in the Iran’s capital city of Tehran secretly today call the control of their dress code just part of actions of force on their dress by “the morality police.”

“There is a place near the fifth station of Tochal where mountain opens its arms toward Tehran and for the wind to be hugged,” outlines an unidentified young woman located inside Iran who posted a picture of herself with her hair flying in the wind on Facebook as she stands in her favorite place in the mountains outside of Tehran.

“Whenever I go there, I let the wind blow in my hair and take it wherever it wants to; and then I feel after all the pain that I have been through till I have climbed this far, I’m at least entitled to let my permanently concealed hair join the wind near this lovely city of mine, Tehran,” she adds.

“The indication of this place is the triangle sign that warns the danger of avalanche…watching all these [this] together amazes me, the danger of avalanche, Stealthy Freedom, and setting free of the compulsory hijab,” she continues.

The idea of protesting against the compulsory hijab and for universal hair freedom isn’t something new.

The right to wear clothing that one chooses became part of a human rights drumbeat for many of the women in Iran following the crackdown on ‘western’ dress following the 1979 revolution in Iran. It surfaced again with the One Million Signatures Campaign, that continues today to work to stop discriminatory laws against women in Iran, as the issues covering human rights go ‘toe-to-toe’ with religious-based ideas and laws.

Iranian women throw hijabs in air
Iranian women throw their hijabs (headscarves) up in the air as a show of defiance against restrictive dress code laws inside Iran. Image: آزادی های یواشکی زنان در ایران

But not all women in the region agree that the compulsory hijab is a bad thing. Some women are actually asking for more severe punishment for those who refuse to follow Iran’s strict Islamic dress restrictions.

According to The New York Times on Wednesday May 7, over 400 conservative women demonstrators hit the streets in Tehran wearing the chador, a full-body-length cloth that wraps over the head and around the body to hide whatever a woman may be wearing underneath. The chador, which is most often seen in traditional black, also covers the hair tightly as it hides not only the hair but the contours of body as well as it works to virtually conceal a woman in public, except for a woman’s face.

“Immorality is so widespread in society, we have to do something before it is too late,” said one chador-wearing protesting woman who gave a public statement to the press on May 7 as she asked that her full name not be used.

“My moments of freedom have always been full of fear…This photo was taken in autumn ( in Sorkhehesar Park). My mind was busy with freedom; but my body all trembled with fear; I trembled as the autumn leaves in the wind! yes, my moments of stealthy freedom have always been full of fear. freedom is the oldest dream of all Iranian women,” said a different Iranian woman’s post on the Stealthy Freedoms of Iranian Women Facebook page.

“I hope one day this dream comes true at last,” she continued.

It appears the freedom many Iranian women are trying to feel today by letting their hair show in public has little to do with a denial in the rights of others to follow religion. Universally among the women who are protesting, it is a quest for dignity, for non-discrimination and equal rights with men under Iranian law, say the women advocates.


A video showing images that have been posted to the new Facebook page Stealthy Freedoms of Iranian Women, with a song that speaks to the strength and beauty of women and girls throughout Asia as it portrays Iranian women, and their male supporters, from all walks of life. Advocates outline that the true goal of the #mystealthyfreedom campaign is freedom, equality, respect and the right to choose one’s own personal dress for all women now living inside Iran.


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