Iranian Women ‘Steal’ Freedom, Defy Hijab Law & Post Photos on Facebook

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By Sounak Mukhopadhyay | May 15, 2014 10:24 AM EST

Iranian women are encouraged to remove their hijab and upload their photos on Facebook. London-based Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad created the Facebook page, called "Stealthy Freedoms of Iranian Women," on May 3, 2014. The page has already got more than 334,000 likes until May 21.

REUTERS/Hamid Forootan/ISNA
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during the 16th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran, August 30, 2012.

Alinejad's efforts seem to have been working quite well so far. Thousands of women from the Islamic country are uploading their images with no hijab. Iranian women's apparent attempt to "steal" freedom has caused a major debate in the country. Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran has been following a law that makes it mandatory for women to cover their head.

Alinejad told TIME that she had been flooded with images, Facebook messages and emails "every single minute." She said that she did not ask women to take off their scarves. However, Iranian papers hardly portray such "ordinary, smiling women, full of color." "I'm not fighting the hijab, I'm fighting censorship," she said. Alinejad's mother wears a hijab herself.

There is apparently a debate every summer over the use of hijab as the rising temperature in Iran makes it difficult for women to cover their head. The morality police of the country, on the other hand, make sure that there is no "indecent" behaviour on the streets. This unique opportunity on social media has apparently opened up possibilities for Iranian women to be themselves without being scared of the legal system of the country. The photos are anonymous and vary in the "degree of defiance."

One of the photos shared on the Facebook page shows a vibrant woman without hijab. The photo is described as "Hijab has not ever been what I have chosen. I am a woman.. and my lungs consume as much air as yours do! And I must be able to enjoy it as much as you do!"

The description of Alinejad in her Facebook page says that she is "An Iranian journalist who is full of hope even...." She may want people to decide how the sentence should be completed.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Hamid Forootan/ISNA / )
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during the 16th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran, August 30, 2012.
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