By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL
"To those who say I should leave the country if I don't want to wear the hijab, I say the hijab wasn't my choice. I want to have freedom in my country."
An unveiled young woman stands in front of a sign that reads: "Sisters, observe your hijab." Another with red hair and dark glasses stands next to the ruins of Persepolis, while two others, also sans hijab, dance happily on the shores of the Caspian Sea.
They are among dozens of Iranian women inside the country who have posted their hijab-less photos on a newly launched Facebook page to share their "stealthy" moments of freedom from the veil.
My Stealthy Freedom
The administrators of the page, titled "Iranian Women's Freedoms Stealthy," say they do not belong to any political group and that the initiative reflects the concerns of Iranian women who face legal and social restrictions.
They say all of the photos and captions posted have been sent by women from all over Iran. Launched on May 3, the page has garnered more than 27,000 likes.
"Have [the authorities] ever considered why women stand in front of signs about the hijab, and instead of observing it, take off their scarves?"
"This is my photo at Tehran's Yas sports center," explains the woman standing next to the hijab sign, one of many signs and posters in Iran promoting the Islamic dress code in public places as a means of protecting women and their values. "Have [the authorities] ever considered why women stand in front of signs about the hijab, and instead of observing it, take off their scarves?"
The caption for the photograph of the woman standing near the Persepolis reads: "Freedoms that last only for a few seconds."
The hijab became compulsory following the 1979 revolution and the creation of the Islamic republic. For more than three decades, women in Iran have been wearing the veil: some voluntarily, many under threat of harassmentby police, as well as fines and arrests.
Women who have posted their photos without the veil on a public page could be arrested for breaking the law. But they don't seem to care. They appear happy about their brief moments of freedom and defiance.
A young woman posing while holding her pink scarf over a mountain in the conservative city of Isfahan writes that "the look" of some men in the city is worse than the moral police that enforce the hijab.
"Freedoms that last only for a few seconds."
"To those who say I should leave the country if I don't want to wear the hijab, I say the hijab wasn't my choice," she writes. "I want to have freedom in my country."
Another woman who posted her picture without the veil while standing atop a mountain in the northwestern city of Tabriz writes about the pleasure of feeling the wind in her hair.
"We keep hoping that this freedom will not be stealthy," she writes.
Copyright (c) 2014 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
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