BuzzFeed Scoop: Protesting Iranian Woman Not Part of Iran Protests

My Stealthy Freedom photograph: This woman hung her scarf on a stick and waved it in the air in protest to compulsory hijab
Facebook/My Stealthy Freedom

Left-wing media website BuzzFeed News has falsely claimed that conservatives suggested that an image of an Iranian woman protesting without a headscarf – which has become the symbol of the women’s empowerment movement during the Iran protests – was taken during the ongoing Iranian protests.

The image was taken one day before the Iran protests began, as part of My Stealthy Freedom’s “White Wednesday,” started by founder Masih Alinejad. However, BuzzFeed referred to the image as “old,” writing, “People are using an old image of a woman without a headscarf to illustrate the Iran protests”:

The photo of the unidentified Iranian female, waving a white hijab on a stick as passersby drive down Enqelab Street in Tehran, was taken on December 27. Protests began in Mashad on December 28, and the picture quickly made rounds on social media sites to motivate women to push back against the oppressive and restrictive policies they have been forced to live under since the 1979 revolution.

My Stealthy Freedom founder Alinejad told BuzzFeed, “There is no link between the photo and the protests. She made her lonely protest just a day before the uprising. We don’t know where she is but she has become an iconic picture of the Iran protests.”

However, the image has become the symbol of the protests. Many users on Facebook and Twitter have changed their profile pictures to the image of that brave woman in solidarity with the protesters calling for greater freedoms in their home country. Many international publications have used the image of that woman, who has been hailed a “hero,” in their articles. 

The UK’s Independent wrote a piece titled “Pictures showing Tehran woman removing hijab during anti-government rally hailed as symbol of defiance.” CNN has also highlighted the iconic image.

The BBC also noted, “Woman becomes face of Iran protests despite not being there.”

The BuzzFeed article highlights tweets from mostly conservatives, writing, “Once images of the woman started circulating, right-wing personalities started using them to further their own agenda, making comparisons between her actions and feminists in the West.”

However, these tweets never actually claim that the iconic image was part of the larger Iran protests.

These are the tweets BuzzFeed chose to highlight in its piece:

Furthermore, the designation of the image, taken a week ago, as “old” struck many as suspect at best.

The “White Wednesday” protests are not objecting specifically to the hijab, but to the fact that not wearing it is illegal in Iran.

The larger protests, which began on December 28 in Mashhad and have entered their seventh consecutive day throughout Iran, have focused on a variety of issues, including lack of food, high inflation, unemployment, and rejecting Iran’s costly wars in foreign countries, which have resulted in sending weapons and fighters to Syria and providing financial support to the Palestinians and Hamas and the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah.

Chants of “Death to the dictator!” referring to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and “Death to Rouhani,” referring to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, have been repeated for the past few days. Other chants include, “We don’t want an Islamic republic,” and “Clerics shame on you, let go of our country!”

Adelle Nazarian is a politics and national security reporter for Breitbart News. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


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