Iranian women take to the streets to protest hijab laws

The protests come as officials and businesses crackdown on Iranian women who fail to wear hijab.

A number of Iranian women removed their hijabs in public on Tuesday in protest of increasing pressure by the Iranian government to enforce hijab and chastity laws, sharing videos with the hashtag #hijab_without_hijab on social media.

The protest came as the government marked “hijab and chastity day” on Tuesday with measures including a chastity ceremony in a stadium in Tehran, and as the Iranian government makes hijab laws in the country stricter.

Earlier this month, the deputy prosecutor of the city of Mashhad in northeast Iran wrote an order preventing women not wearing hijab from entering the metro in the city and accessing offices and banks, with the mayor of the city expressing opposition to the decision but allowing the order, according to BBC Persian.

Meanwhile, Iran’s Bank Mellat has issued a directive forbidding female employees from wearing high-heels and stockings. Male managers at the bank are also prohibited from having women as administrative assistants.

On Tuesday and on the days preceding it, Iranian women shared videos and photos of themselves removing their hijab in public throughout Iran on social media.

“Tomorrow Iranian women will shake the clerical regime by removing their hijab and taking to the streets across Iran to say #No2Hijab. This is called Women Revolution. In Iran #WalkingUnveiled is a crime. Iranian men will also join us,” tweeted Iranian journalist and activist Masih Alinejad ahead of the protest.

According to Trendsmap, the hashtag #hijab_without_hijab had been used in over 76,000 tweets globally on Monday and Tuesday. On the Iranian Tagminer website, the hashtag was listed as the second most popular tag in the country as of Tuesday evening.

The semi-official Iranian Fars News Agency discounted the protest movement, calling it an attempt by the “counter-revolution” to “promote promiscuity and bad hijab in Iran.” The news agency additionally claimed that the hashtag failed to become trending on Persian Twitter and that the main accounts speaking about the protest were anonymous ones that supported the US and the Shah.

Iran’s hijab law

According to an Iranian law instituted after the 1979 Islamic revolution, woman over the age of nine are required to wear a hijab and can face imprisonment or heavy fines if they fail to do so. July 12 was chosen as hijab and chastity day to commemorate protests that took place in 1935 in Mashhad after then ruler of Iran Reza Shah banned women from wearing Islamic veils.

From 2017 to 2019, multiple series of protests were carried out by Iranian women against hijab requirements. In December 2017, a photo and video of Iranian citizen Vida Movahed waving her scarf while standing on top of a utility box in Tehran went viral. Movahed was arrested immediately and released in 2018 on bail.

During protests in 2019, the chairman of the revolutionary court in Tehran, Mousa Ghazanfarabadi, warned that any woman who published a video of themselves removing their hijab would face up to ten years in prison.