New Delhi: In an unusual protest against compulsory veiling, women in Iran have been taking to streets lately and have been pulling off their headscarves on public squares, posing a new challenge to the Islamic government.
An attempt to stage demonstration on the same lines on the occasion of International Women's Day was however curbed by the government by heavy patrolling against such demonstrators in the capital city of Tehran.
According to reports over last few months such instances of women brandishing headscarves have been occurring intermittently but not massively.
Being called as a new expression of liberation from mandatory veiling of women, the movement caught attention of the government which is now on an alert to curb the audacity of such guerrilla protesters.
A woman who dared to protest by removing the headscarf in late December has been sentenced to two years of imprisonment.
Police reportedly detained 29 women who removed their headscarves as part of an anti-hijab campaign known as “White Wednesdays".
Iran’s chief leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei posted stern message on the occasion, lashing out at Western countries for the “immodesty of their women”.
He tweeted: “Today, according to the western model, the most sought after characteristics of a #woman involve her ability to physically attract men and appease them: one distinct image (portrayed in society) of the western woman is her nudity.”
Then in a series of related tweets, the leader gave out strong message in support of mandatory Hijab:
“By promoting modest dress (#hijab), #Islam has blocked the path which would lead women to such a deviant lifestyle . Hijab is a means of immunity not restriction.”
“A woman can have active presence & deep influence on social arenas—as Iranian women are so influential. The features of today's Iranian woman include modesty, chastity, eminence, protecting herself from abuse by men, refraining from humiliating herself into appeasing men.”
“Today the flag of women’s identity and cultural independence is at the hands of Iranian women. Iranian women today, declare their cultural and identity independence and export it to the world while preserving their #hijab.”
In recent months many women have staged demonstration against headscarves in Iran, the country which legally requires women to wear head covering in public.
According to reports, a woman whose picture of brandishing headscarf spread over social media, had said that as she felt really powerful as she hoisted her headscarf on a stick. She said that people are not used to seeing women like that. She had named herself Azadeh (one who is free).
The hijab protesters though very small in number have triggered debate over the strict moral code of the country.