Risking arrest and prison, Iranian women cast off their hijabs in protest

At least five women in the Iranian capital Tehran protested the country's compulsory headscarf rules by waving theirs on sticks, social media postings showed on Monday.

"They are risking their liberty, they are also exposing themselves to torture and other ill treatment at the hands of police and other paramilitary forces in Iran that enforce compulsory veiling against women", Raha Bahraini, Amnesty international's researcher on Iran, who has been closely following the spread of the powerful protest images, said.

Public concern mounted for Movahedi's safety after reports of her arrest, particularly with the authorities clamping down on protests and possible dissenters as antiestablishment unrest spread to dozens of Iranian cities in late December and early January.

Nasrin Sotoudeh, a Tehran-based lawyer and human rights activist, was at the forefront of efforts to publicise Ms Movahed's plight.

One woman who was said to have been arrested and was identified as Narguess Hosseini, stood at the same spot as Movahedi.

Ms Movahed, a young mother jailed for protesting the Islamic dresscode enforced on women in was released yesterday, more than a month after her arrest.

Since Ms Movahed's release, there has been an explosion of young women on social media following in her footsteps and the images are now spreading like insane.

Iranian activists started a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #WhereIsShe, demanding that the government reveal what happened to her.

The wearing of headscarves by Iranian women has been obligatory since Iran's Islamic Revolution of 1979.

Figures are rarely given, but Tehran's traffic police said in late 2015 they had dealt with 40,000 cases of bad hijab in cars, where women often let their headscarves drop around their necks. It now seems this protest has moved from the auto to the street.

The so-called "hijab protest" seems to have struck a chord with many - especially younger - Iranians.

White is one of the most common colours of headscarves in Iran, which only allows "modest" shades such as white, brown or black.

It is "dedicated to Iranian women inside the country who want to share their "stealthily" taken photos without the veil", and aim to be a "living archive" of their fight.

Iran's clerically dominated authorities insist that women, even foreign visitors, must cover their head and hair in public with a scarf, known as the hijab.

"The campaign has gathered force and I believe the social media platform has given women the opportunity to speak out for themselves and show that they do not accept this degradation anymore".


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