What began as a silent online protest has sprawled into a raging movement with Iranian women removing their hijabs and posting pictures of their pretty, uncovered hair to flow freely through the wind, a crime that is forbidden and punishable by arrest in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
London-based journalist Masih Alinejad started the protest against the hijab with the creation of a movement she calls My Stealthy Freedom in the hopes that the law requiring women wear the head covering will soon be removed in Iran.
Her Facebook page is quickly approaching 1 million likes.
Although Alinejad is not against the hijab itself, having been raised in a religious Iranian family; she is against the idea of it being required by law.
“This piece of cloth, in the hands of a regime that has made compulsory hijab into the law of the land, is an instrument of oppression against women… Compulsory hijab creates division in families and in society. And these rules create tensions in society,” Alinejad said earlier this year, when she accepted the UN Summit on human rights and democracy award in Geneva for My Stealthy Freedom.
According to the Head of Iran’s National Security Forces Esmail-Ahmadi-Moghaddam, “the [Iranian] morality police warned, fined or arrested 3.6 million women for inappropriate dress.”
Alinejad started her campaign to ditch the hijab in May of last year. She kicked off the movement by posting two images of herself wearing a hijab juxtaposed with another of her hair uncovered. From there, she started receiving submissions and posted pictures from women living in Iran who took to the lens with uncovered hair and accompanied feelings on the matter.
One woman who submitted her photo for the Facebook page wrote, “It’s sad that my pretty black hair’s going grey and hasn’t seen the color of wind, sun, or rain yet.”
Shah Reza Pahlavi of Iran had banned the veil in 1936. It was reinstated as written law under Islamic hardliner Ayatollah Khomeini in 1983, when he declared Shari’a law as the law of the land.
“My heart feels imprisoned by an indescribable pain, caused by taking away this tiniest of rights from the women in my family, friends and all of the women of my country,” another Iranian woman wrote along with her submission. “It is as if I will never enjoy the wind blowing through my hair until I could touch this freedom at home.”