Friday, February 9, 2018

There are real women in Iran. As their numbers grow they will eventually kill the Islamic death cult in Iran. Good riddance when that happens.

Wall Street Journal - ‘I Have No Fear’: Iranian Women Cast Off Islamic Head Scarves in Protest. Anti-hijab campaigners grow bolder with risky public demonstrations of defiance that point up a societal rift between conservatives and social reformists.

By Asa Fitch in Dubai and Aresu Eqbali in Tehran Feb. 7, 2018

Iranian women are defying the government by pulling off their head scarfs in public, joining a growing protest movement that places them on the front lines of a debate between Iran’s Islamic conservatives and proponents of greater social freedoms.

The demonstrations, which included more than a dozen women on Wednesday, also betray differences between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate who has courted women’s support, and the country’s hard-liners, who oppose any easing of strictures on the head scarf, or hijab.

Iranian women have protested for decades against laws requiring them to wear the hijab in public places. But dozens of them have become more daring in the past month, removing their head scarfs in public places where they are at greater risk of arrest, and publicizing the acts on social media.

“Iranian society is squarely in a post-revolutionary phase,” said Ali Vaez, Iran project director at the nonprofit International Crisis Group.

And while the hijab protests have been much smaller and more sporadic than the unrest that rocked Iran around the new year, they have grown even as the earlier demonstrations waned, underscoring continued challenges to Iran’s ruling system. Among the images and videos shared on social media Wednesday, one showed a woman with hair dyed pink being challenged on a street by women dressed in conservative black chadors. Others stood in parks or the middle of busy roads and flashed peace signs at passersby as they waved their headscarves, or hijabs, in the air.

Some say the hijab protests spring from the same spirit of dissent that animated widespread demonstrations that caught Iranian authorities by surprise in January. These initially focused on economic concerns before transforming into a broader condemnation of Iran’s ruling system.

The January demonstrators and those protesting the hijab “have been frustrated with the government’s empty promises, which haven’t been fulfilled at all,” said Shadi Sadr, an Iranian lawyer and women’s rights activist based in London who runs nonprofit Justice for Iran.

Laws requiring women to wear the hijab have existed in Iran since 1983. Penalties for going bareheaded in public can be harsh, depending under which statutes violators are prosecuted. A public decency law stipulates up to two months in prison and 74 lashes, but another part of the penal code covering immorality suggests one to 10 years of imprisonment.

Hard-line officials, including some influential religious authorities, have dismissed the anti-hijab protests as insignificant. Meanwhile, Mr. Rouhani hasn’t responded forcefully to the protests, making no mention of the campaign in a nationally televised news conference Tuesday.

Earlier this week, the research arm of his office released a 2014 government opinion poll suggesting about half of Iranians saw wearing the head scarf as a private matter the government should stay out of.

The precise circumstances of the release were unclear, but it appeared to signal that Mr. Rouhani sympathized with the protesters and sought to challenge hard-liners on the issue.

The president has staked out a stance against religious interference in people’s private lives in the past, including in a 2014 speech in which he said people couldn’t rely on the government for religious direction. “People can’t be forcefully taken to heaven with lashes,” he said then.

Saeed Laylaz, an analyst close to Iran’s moderate politicians, said Mr. Rouhani might not openly support the demand for an end to mandatory headscarves, but wouldn’t stand against it. A public stance in favor might be awkward for Mr. Rouhani, because the protests reflect dissatisfaction with the ruling system.

“The fight here is not about a simple hijab,” Mr. Laylaz said.

The wave began in late December, when Vida Movahed, a 31-year-old mother, clambered up an electrical box and was pictured waving her head scarf from a stick on a busy street in Tehran. She was arrested and held for about a month before being released, according to activists.

Authorities have arrested at least 29 people during the recent wave of protests, according to semiofficial Iranian media.

The images and videos of women posted on Wednesday were part of a weekly campaign organized by My Stealthy Freedom, an anti-hijab-law movement led by Brooklyn-based Iranian activist Masih Alinejad. The “White Wednesdays” campaign—a reference to the color of many women’s headscarves—is in its 34th week.

On Wednesday, Ms. Alinejad posted photos and videos from across Iran, in urban and rural areas. The images couldn’t be independently verified.

“I don’t want anyone to interfere in my choices,” Ms. Alinejad posted, quoting a woman shown climbing out of the passenger’s-side window of a moving car and waving her veil. “I have no fear,” said the post.

Write to Asa Fitch at

Appeared in the February 8, 2018, print edition as 'Iranian Women Cast Off Hijabs.'

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