Iranian women by the thousands are posting their photos without a hijab, or Islamic headscarf, on a Facebook page called “Stealthy Freedoms of Iranian Women.”
The page is intended for women to post freedom-inspiring photos of themselves in varying degrees of defiance, from some only showing the backs of their heads while others stand in front of government offices.
The site, which has garnered almost 180,000 likes since May 3, was created by London-based Iranian journalist, Masih Alinejad, who cultivated the idea after receiving messages from her counterparts back home telling her how lucky she is to have Facebook photos with her hair blowing in the wind.
Alinejad left Iran in 2009, the same year Iranians flooded the streets of Iran protesting the corruption of their government in the aftermath of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s contested re-election. The world was then introduced to a new brand of secular Iranians, passionate about their freedom and ready to break free from government oppression.
Every summer in Iran, as temperatures move higher, Iranian fashion-forward women are reminded that they too would like to wear the latest summer styles, which include lighter, brighter fabrics, higher hemlines and in their cases, looser hijabs that fall farther back on their hair.
“It is painful that I shall not be free so that you will not sin,” writes one woman next to her photo. “That I have to be covered so that your weak faith does not break!”
Another woman, standing in front of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s office writes, “We will move faster and faster till u understand what we are capable of doing. Whatever you say we MUST NOT do, we will do! Hoping for freedom.”
The photos enjoy support throughout segments of society with many posing with their mothers, daughters, husbands or boyfriends.
The photos are posted anonymously and only with the permission of those who submit, Alinejad said.
The women 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 manteaux, or overcoat of some type, that covers three-quarters of the body.
Government officials have not remained silent. Fars News Agency, a semi-official news platform, condemned the page and called Alinejad out for inciting immoral behavior and collaborating with Iran’s enemies.