Wearing the hijab is a legal requirement for women in Iran. But a controversial Facebook campaign is calling on female tourists visiting the country to post pictures of themselves removing the garment.
The campaign is the work of My Stealthy Freedom, an online movement which is no stranger to this particular act of defiance. Almost two years ago BBC Trending reported on the group’s launch, since then the campaign has posted dozens of photos of Iranian women risking arrest by going out in public without the religious head covering.
But its latest request comes in response to the plight of a group of female crew members at a French airline.
When it was announced that Air France would begin flying into Tehran after an eight year hiatus, a number of the female crew demanded the right to opt-out of working on the new route. Why? Well many objected to an internal memo asking them to wear a hijab when disembarking the plane in the Iranian capital.
The crew members have now won the battle. On Monday Air France announced it would allow its female staff to be reassigned to other flights, should they not wish to fly to Iran.
In support of the their concerns, My Stealthy Freedom asked all female visitors to Iran to remove their headscarves and send in photographs – and many have obliged. Their images have been shared tens of thousands of times online.
Along with their pictures the women sent in messages of support for women in Iran. “Your government tries to keep you little in the name of God! They try to keep you silent, but you have so much to say!” wrote one. “It’s a pity that not only these amazing people, but also tourists like me are having the mandatory hijab imposed. I am annoyed that I can’t express myself truly,” said another
Another woman posted a picture of herself with the caption: “??Iran is beautiful and Iranian people are wonderful. Great hospitality and a strong desire for freedom and peace. Wearing the compulsory hijab gave me a terrible feeling of slavery. I didn’t feel free to be what I am, which is horrible. For me, it was only 22 days of my life. For you, you always have to wear it!”
Masih Alinejad, who created the My Stealthy Freedom movement confirms that all the women featured have now left the country.
She told BBC Trending that she started this latest iteration of the campaign because she felt the Air France debate showed the matter was not just confined to Iranian women. “When the issue of the veil applies to all non-Iranian women in the Islamic Republic, then it is a global issue. I think all women who are not happy to be forced to wear the hijab, should stand together and talk about it.”
In October, BBC Trending wrote about a trend driven by the same Facebook page in which husbands in Iran were declaring solidarity with their wives. Many posted messages to say they were ashamed to have more rights than their partner.