Police in Tehran arrested 29 women for being outdoors without their hijab or headscarf. This comes after a wave of protests that were sparked by a woman standing on Tehran’s bustling Enghelab Street, waving her hijab on a stick. Since then, several people have shared pictures on social media of women standing on top of utility boxes in Iran and waving their hijabs on sticks.
Iran’s law makes it compulsory for women to wear the hijab in public.
The country’s chief prosecutor Mohammad Jafar Montazeri had played down the escalating protests on Wednesday, AFP reported. He had said the protests were “trivial” and “childish” moves that might have been incited by foreigners. The bail for one of the women detained this week has been set at $100,000, a lawyer told AFP.
“The Iranian police announced in 2014 that they have warned, arrested or sent to court nearly 3.6 million women because of having bad hijab,” Masih Alinejad, a US-based journalist and activist, told The Guardian. “So these arrests are not new, if people are protesting it is exactly because of such a crackdown.” Alinejad is behind the White Wednesdays campaign, which encourages women to wear white headscarves or take them off in protest at the rules. Iran’s semi-official Tasnim News claimed the campaign “deceived” the 29 arrested women into removing their hijab, according to The Guardian.
People have been sharing images of women standing on top of utility boxes waving their hijabs on sticks with the hashtag #GirlsOfRevolutionSt, as a tribute to 31-year-old Vida Mohaved, the woman who initiated the protest in Tehran’s Enghelab Street and was arrested for it in December 2017.
Mohaved, who was released on Sunday, made headlines during the agitations against Iran’s deteriorating economy and corruption in the administration. Around 400 people were detained during the protests. Although Mohaved’s defiant act were not directly related to the anti-regime protests, it inspired others to speak out against the oppression and lack of social and political freedom.