Hijab Protests Expose Iran’s Core Divide

Source: The New Yorker


It was the quietest protest Iran has ever witnessed. Vida Movahed, a thirty-one-year-old mother of a toddler, stood atop a large utility box on Tehran’s busy Enghelab Street and removed the hijab head covering that all women are required to wear by law. Her jet-black hair cascaded far down her back. She then tied her white scarf to a stick and, as shoppers scurried beneath her on a busy thoroughfare, silently waved it like a flag. She stood there waving, alone, for an hour.


Thus began the so-called Girls of Revolution Street protest, on December 27th, and with it Iran’s most robust debate about both women’s rights and religious restrictions in the four decades since the fall of the Shah. Photos and videos of Movahed’s defiance soon went viral. Other young women, individually and in small groups, began to follow suit, posting their pictures on social media and generating new hashtags in Farsi (#دختران_خیابان_انقلاب, which translates to #girls-enghelab-street) and in English. Movahed apparently chose the venue deliberately. “Enghelab” means “revolution” in Farsi. The street was renamed after the 1979 uprising against the monarchy; after the women’s protests, it took on a new meaning. The new demonstrations of dissent spread to the historic city of Isfahan, the Caspian resort town of Rasht, and beyond.

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