Men in Iran are Wearing Hijabs in Support of Women’s Rights

The fight against the forced hijab has been documented since it began immediately after the 1979 Iranian revolution. Iranian women have gone so far as to shave their heads in protest of wearing the hijab. Last week, however, the fight against forced hijab took a new turn. Iranian men have begun wearing the hijab in public, as well as in social media posts, in protest of the13882194_1455418324472257_9184109751125894604_n forced covering.

The campaign began on the Facebook group My Stealthy Freedom, which has been at the forefront of the fight against forced hijab. One of the submitted posts states “Compulsion is not a good feeling. I hate when they used morality police in order to force my wife to wear compulsory hijab. There are a lot of men in Iran who have respect for women’s freedom of choice, so those conservatives that are not happy with our wives’ “bad hijab”, are not representative of Iranian men at all.”

Masih Alinejad, an Iranian journalist and activist living in New York, is behind the widely popular Facebook group which encourages Iranian women, and now men, to post photos of themselves without their hijabs along with a caption of why they oppose the forced practice. Over one million people have liked the movement on Facebook. Prior to the #meninhijab campaign, the page has almost exclusively been contributed to by brave Iranian women submitting pictures of themselves without their hijab.

Alinejad has received well over 30 images of men in Iran wearing a hijab since she began the campaign on July 22. Men are also posting pictures on their personal social media accounts with the hashtag #meninhijab.

Many of the photos being posted show a man wearing a hijab next to a woman whose hair is uncovered.

This heightened campaign against forced hijab is in opposition to the stance of Iran’s morality police. The Iranian morality police, which reportedly added 7,000 new operatives in Tehran earlier this year, has been a force since the 1979 revolution. This increase in operatives was met with public backlash online and some believe the number to be overly exaggerated to scare the population. One user tweeted: “I wish we were living in a country where instead of undercover agents targeting morality, we had undercover agents targeting corruption of the officials.”

The force is known to frequently harass women. It is routine for officers to physically remove “excessive” makeup off of women, for women to get dragged to police stations where they have to wait for a family member to come and give a written promise that they will never commit the offense again, and to receive fines upwards of $250.

However, Iranian women and men show no sign of stopping their campaign against forced hijab. Iranian women continue to test the boundaries of dress code enforcement by replacing their chadors with fashionable headscarves and dresses. They also are continuing to test these limits by pushing their headscarves further and further back so their hair is showing.

Another post from the page states: “The fact that they [women] are forced to wear som13882511_1457138630966893_4064358507491324802_nething against their will tarnishes, in reality, the image of Iranians everywhere in the world. That’s why this new campaign can at the same time draw attention to the plight of Iranian and also show the real face of Iran and Iranians.”

Yet again, the #meninhijab campaign highlights the sharp contrast that is often found between the hardliners of the Iranian government and the Iranian people. This difference often catches travelers to Iran off-guard. Linda Mason, a writer for CNN, stated in 2015 that “Iran is a young, urban, educated and increasingly Western-oriented population yearning to be part of the international community.” Anthony Bourdain, an American chef, author, and television personality, stated on his arrival to Iran: “I am so confused. It wasn’t supposed to be like this — of all the places, of all the countries, all the years of traveling, it’s here, in Iran, that I am greeted most warmly by total strangers.”

In Iran, only one Persian-speaking news-outlet is covering the movement and has condemned the campaign. However, news of the protest is being covered by major news organizations worldwide from the U.S. to Sweden to India and shows no signs of slowing down.


Posted By Karina Bakhshi-Azar

    One Response to “Men in Iran are Wearing Hijabs in Support of Women’s Rights”

  1. Shireen Irani Parsons says:

    My son and I traveled to Iran three years ago — What a marvelous experience! The highlight for me was our visit to Yazd, the mountaintop village where my grandfather’s family lived. The charming adobe houses, the gardens, the 6,000-year-old cypress tree…, welcomed by residents who were so pleased to meet and greet us.

    In Tehran, we visited mosques and parks and wandered the streets — beauty everywhere! And Iranians are so gracious — smiling and asking about our family (Soroush), and even asking us in for dinner.

    Our guide and driver took us to the desert and the mountains and cities and rural communities. It was all a dream come true!

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Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.



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