Iran -The Real Womens March
An Iranian protester removed her head scarf and waved it in public like a flag. She hasn’t been seen since
One day late last month, a woman wearing black trousers and gray sneakers climbed atop a telephone utility box in Tehran’s crowded Enghelab Square.
In an act of defiance as quiet as it was striking, she removed her white head scarf, tied it to a stick and waved the garment back and forth like a flag in protest against modesty laws that require Iranian women to cover their hair.
In cellphone videos captured by onlookers, her movements are slow, almost hypnotic, her dark hair flowing down to the middle of her back.
Weeks later, after Iran was shaken by the biggest anti-government protests in nearly a decade, the woman’s whereabouts are unknown. She has become the subject of a social media campaign labeled #Where_Is_She, and an anonymous symbol of opposition to what many Iranians view as the theocracy’s harsh laws against free expression.
Questions over the woman’s fate deepened this week after Nasrin Sotoudeh, one of Iran’s most prominent human rights lawyers, posted on Facebook that she had learned the woman was arrested the day of her protest, Dec. 27, released shortly afterward and then rearrested.
Sotoudeh said the woman was 31 and mother to a 20-month-old child, but she did not know whether she had been tried. No family members or friends have come forward to identify her publicly, perhaps to protect themselves as dissidents come under added scrutiny after the unrest.
Shopkeepers near where the woman stood — a street corner with a confectionary and several sidewalk peddlers — said in interviews that her protest went on for more than an hour, until she was arrested by two female police officers.
Peddlers who took video of her were arrested and later released, they said.
Her protest occurred on a Wednesday, a day when activists wear white in protest of the modesty laws that have been enforced with varying degrees of fervor since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution. Women must cover their hair with the head scarf, or hijab, and wear long, loose-fitting coats known as manteaus — or risk being stopped by so-called moral police.
The next day, protests over economic grievances and corruption broke out and quickly spread to dozens of cities. In the ensuing crackdown, more than 20 people were killed and thousands arrested, with some believed to have died in custody under circumstances that authorities have not fully explained.
All that has made the hijab-less woman a cause celebre on social media, her gesture forever linked to the anti-government demonstrations even though she was not actually a part of them.
“As the protests spread, many Iranian activists online were inspired by the nonviolent protest of the lone girl,” Masih Alinejad, an activist and founder of the My Stealthy Freedom campaign against enforced hijab, told Al-Monitor, a news site covering the Middle East.
“Her gesture was seen as a symbol of resistance. Her protest caught the imagination of Iranian women and men, feminists and non-feminists.”
Internet memes have sprung up showing the woman facing a firing squad, standing in place of the emblem in the Iranian flag and countering a police baton with her hijab.
Iranian hijab protester: Where is she?
A woman who became the face of protests in Iran last December is the subject of a new social media campaign in the country.
Images of the woman, whose name remains unknown, defiantly taking off and waving her white headscarf – a punishable offence – in central Tehran were shared thousands of times during anti-establishment protests at the end of last year.
Now, Iranians are asking: Where is she?
On Monday, earlier reports that the female protester was arrested on 27 December were confirmed to BBC Persian by human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, who added the protester is 31 years old and mother to a 20-month-old child.
Mrs Sotoudeh, herself a former political prisoner, was the first rights activist to reveal more information about the young woman.
“Our investigations confirm that the young woman, whose name we still do not know, was arrested on that very same day,” she wrote on Facebook on Sunday, along with a picture from the same location where the woman was first arrested.
“She was released shortly afterwards but was arrested once again,” Mrs Sotoudeh added.
Since January 17, a hashtag in Persian asking just that – and English-language equivalents #where_is_she and #WhereIsShe – have been used more than 28,000 times on Twitter, as well as on other social media channels used in the country where dissent is often met with repression.
The photograph of the woman was first widely used in connection to the White Wednesday campaign in which women in Iran wear white to protest the country’s strict dress code.
Since the Iranian revolution in 1979, women have been forced to cover their hair according to Islamic law on modesty, and to wear knee-length over shirts.
The unknown woman was propelled to international fame as her image became emblematic of the recent unrest, the largest since 2009, in which at least 20 people died protesting government corruption, unemployment and the weak economy.
She Made Her Hijab Into a Flag. Then She Vanished
Iranian woman reportedly arrested after making flag out of headscarf to protest morality code
She tore off her white headscarf, made a flag out of it, and waved it for more than an hour in the center of Tehran late last month, an act of resistance against a strict dress code for women. But now, per the Los Angeles Times, the mystery protester, whose hijab-waving video went viral, vanished soon after, reportedly arrested for violating the country’s modesty laws and spurring the #WhereIsShe and #Where_Is_She hashtags. Witnesses say two female cops detained her, and prominent human-rights attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh confirmed to the BBC the woman was indeed arrested on Dec. 27, released not long after, and then rearrested. Sotoudeh adds that the woman is a 31-year-old mother of a toddler. The woman wasn’t officially part of the Iranian protests that have recently gripped the nation, but she’s become a symbol for those criticizing the government.
She’s said to have made her stick-and-hijab flag on a Wednesday, which is the day of the week when those who push back against modesty laws—requiring women to cover their hair with hijabs, among other mandates—do so by donning white. The countrywide demonstrations against national corruption and economic woes didn’t start until the next day, but one poster that’s circulating shows a rendering of the woman’s hijab flag facing down a police baton, with the hashtag #OursIsStronger. Per Radio Free Europe, Amnesty International has released a statement calling for authorities to “immediately and unconditionally” let her go and “to end the persecution of women who speak out against compulsory veiling, and abolish this discriminatory and humiliating practice.” (Iran has banned its primary schools from teaching English.)
Iranian women publicly take off their headscarf as social media protest spreads
A PUBLIC movement against strict Islamic law is growing in Iran as women take to the street and social media with an act of defiance.
SOCIAL media postings show a wave of women in Iran protesting the obligatory Muslim headscarf by taking theirs off and waving them on sticks.
The videos and photos showed individual women in separate locations in Tehran and Isfahan as the movement has grown over the past days.
Masoud Sarabi, who witnessed one of the protests on Monday, confirmed the authenticity of a video shot on Tehran’s Enghelab Street while a number of others have been posted to social media.
The women appear to be following the lead of a 31-year-old protester identified as Vida Movahed, who took off her headscarf on the same street in late December. She was detained for a few weeks and then released after the hashtag #WhereIsShe spread on social media platforms.
Why some Iranian women are removing their hijabs in protest
At least two Iranian women have been arrested in Tehran in recent weeks for taking off their headscarves in protest — and activist Masih Alinejad says the phenomenon is spreading across the country.
Social media posts Monday showed several women in Iran protesting the obligatory Muslim headscarf by taking theirs off and waving them on sticks.
The Islamic dress code, in place since the 1979 revolution, considers Islamic veiling or hijab obligatory for any female above 13 in Iran and says they should cover themselves from head to toe while disavowing any figure-hugging dress.
What are the normal punishments if women don’t comply with the mandatory dress code involving headscarves?
In the Islamic republic of Iran, if you take off your headscarf and you appear in public unveiled, you get fined, you get arrested, you get lashes. You will be kicked out from your school if you are unveiled. You won’t be able to get a job. And I have to say, you won’t be able to live in your country if you don’t want to wear a compulsory hijab.