Source: Center for Human Rights in Iran
As people protesting against the Islamic Republic of Iran’s mandatory hijab law continue to be arrested, an increasing number of political and cultural personalities inside the country are expressing support for the peaceful movement. In late February 2018, prominent opposition figure Zahra Rahnavard, who has been under house arrest for more than seven years, said for the first time that she opposed the compulsory hijab.
“Zahra Rahnavard: I am against the mandatory hijab,” reads a message posted on the Instagram page of her daughter, Narges Mousavi, on February 25.
Rahnavard, whose husband Mir Hossein Mousavi has also been under house arrest since 2011, is not allowed to leave her home except in extremely rare circumstances, is not allowed internet access, and is forbidden from issuing any public statements.
The two were detained along with Mehdi Karroubi for leading the mass protests against the disputed result of Iran’s contested 2009 presidential election. Both Mousavi and Karroubi-prominent politicians at the time-ran in that year’s election against then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Rahnavard wears the hijab voluntarily.
Narges Mousavi’s Instagram post included a sketch drawn by Rahnavard depicting anti-compulsory-hijab protester Maryam Shariatmadari being pushed off a platform by a policeman on February 23 for peacefully protesting against the forced hijab.
Removing your headscarf and waving it like a flag on sidewalk utility platforms on busy streets in Tehran has become a symbol for the “Girls of Revolution Street” movement, which was sparked by Vida Movahed in late December 2017 in Tehran.
On February 26, a letter signed by 68 Iranian female documentary makers based in Iran was published along with Rahnavard’s sketch calling on the three branches of state to approach the peaceful protests legally and humanely.
“In front of the eyes of the public, your agents are throwing down and breaking the limbs of the Girls of Revolution St. who have chosen to go on top of platforms to display their peaceful protests,” said the filmmakers. “We have even heard that they are being secretly beaten in detention.”
“You have a duty to ensure the proper implementation of the law,” they added. “But what we have witnessed is the law enforcement officials’ violent and inhumane confrontation against protesting citizens.”
They continued: “At a time when there is no consensus among religious theologians on covering the hair as a requirement [of the Koran] and while many of them believe coercion is un-Islamic, such violent and uncivilized behavior toward the nonviolent and peaceful protests by the Girls of Revolution St. will raise questions in domestic and international arenas.”
At least 29 people had been arrested as of February 4 in various cities in Iran for peacefully protesting against the country’s mandatory hijab law, which requires women to keep their bodies and hair covered in public.
The detainees’ names have not been made public and it remains unclear how many remain in custody. CHRI has learned that Vida Movahed, Narges Hosseini, Azam Jangravi, Shima Babaei, Shaparak Shajarizadeh, and Maryam Shariatmadari were among those who were arrested.
Shariatmadari was badly injured after a policeman pushed her off a utility platform while she was peacefully protesting against the hijab.
“Maryam’s mother, who was able to see her in prison today, said she was physically very weak, partly because of the leg injury and partly because of the strong antibiotics,” tweeted journalist Jila Baniyaghoob on February 26, 2018.
“This morning the prison officials gave Maryam the rest of the medications she needed,” she added. “They have also moved her bed from the top the bottom bunk, considering her injury. Maryam has told her mother she has no problem with the prison or her conditions.”
Prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, who is representing detained hijab protester Shaparak Shajarizadeh, said her client was “beaten” in detention.
“Shaparak is in detention. Last night she was subjected to beatings in the Vozara St. detention center,” said Sotoudeh in a note posted on Facebook February 22.
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