Iran: online revolt against hijab

Iranian women by the thousands are posting their photos without a hijab on a Facebook page called My Stealthy Freedom, created by London-based Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad, and winning over 180,000 "likes" since it was launched May 3. Women post photos of themselves in varying degrees of defiance, from some only showing the backs of their heads while others standing bareface in front of government offices. "It is painful that I shall not be free so that you will not sin," comments one woman below her photo. "That I have to be covered so that your weak faith does not break!" The women, generally anonymous, are standing up against the Islamic Republic's 35-year law that requires women to dress according to sharia law. In addition to the head covering, they cannot wear clothing that exposes their arms or legs, and must wear a cloak or overcoat that covers three-quarters of the body. The semi-official Fars News Agency has condemned the page and accused Alinejad of inciting immoral behavior and collaborating with Iran's enemies. (Mid East Faces, May 14)

Iranian state TV apparently aired a false story claiming that an "unstable" Alinejad had stripped naked on the London Metro and was subsequently assualted and raped in the presence of her son. The report claimed that London's Metropolitan Police and the BBC sought to keep the rape confidential, but that the story emerged on social media sites. Iranian conservatives have meanwhile been using social media—including platforms actually banned in Iran, such as Google Plus—to assail Alinejad as a "whore" and "nexus of sedition." (IranWire, June 2)

See our last post on Iran's civil opposition.