The bravery of Iranian women in the face of misogynist clerics who impose compulsory hijab on them is simply awe-inspiring. Over the course of our campaign, we have received countless videos from many Iranian women overtly walking unveiled in front of clerics in Iran. Despite being verbally attacked and humiliated by these clerics, these women continued their combat and filmed their experience. Such humiliation has been ongoing for more than 40 years now. What we have done is to relay these women’s heroic fight to the entire world so that the world becomes aware of fact that hijab is not merely a piece of cloth. In the hands of dictators, it can deprive women of their agency. Here is a selection of 13 women who fight the verbal abuse of 13 clerics and walk unveiled despite the threats.

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After banning bicycle sharing services in Isfahan for more than a year, these bicycles have been
allowed to return to the streets of this city with two conditions: Women are banned from using
these bikes. The second condition demands that the regulatory bodies have a seat on the
management committee of the Elipco , a software company which provides the application for
the bike sharing system, to ensure no women use the service. Elipco is the only shared bicycle
service in Isfahan.
Isfahan’s office of Promoting Virtue and Prohibiting Virtue, a unit that oversees morality police,
announced in 2018 that women’s cycling was banned in the city and in September 2018, as
many as 100 purple Elipco bicycles were confiscated and three Elipco stations were shutdown.
Now, Hassan Fathi, the project manager of the OLIPCO project, says that after several meetings
with the prosecutor’s office, the company applied to Tehran mayor’s office and received a
permit to operate the service in the capital provided that women do not use them.
In the application, Elipco noted women are prohibited from using the Elipco bike sharing and
regulatory bodies can monitor to ensure no bicycles are provided to women in the panel.

Often times, the issue of compulsory hijab is cast as being a domestic matter. Some in the West, especially certain well-intentioned politicians don the compulsory hijab without asking any questions, thinking that they’re respecting our culture.

When female politicians from the West travel to Iran and wear the compulsory hijab unquestioningly, they are contributing to our repression. They often say they wear compulsory hijab because it’s supposed to be our “culture”. WRONG! Compulsion has never been our culture. There are millions of Iranian women who don’t want to wear hijab. This is the culture of a repressive regime, not ours. Female Western politicians should not normalise this.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has used Western politicians’ submission to compulsory hijab in its dealings with Iranian women to tell them, “look! Even Western women wear hijab when they visit Iran. What are you complaining about?

Many Iranian women feel left out by the West when it comes to their struggles against repression. While Western politicians prioritise negotiating with our oppressors, our cries for freedom fall on deaf ears.

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The video of a woman riding a bicycle while unveiled and giving victory “V” signs has electrified Iranian social media.  The unknown woman from the town of Najafabad, near the city of Isfahan, has been arrested according to the security services.

In most of the world, a woman riding a bicycle is hardly newsworthy. But in the Islamic Republic of Iran, where women are treated as second class citizens such an act is tantamount to calling for a revolution.

Such is the nature of the oppression in the Islamic Republic that women removing her compulsory hijab and riding a bicycle are regarded as acts of rebellion.

The Islamic Republic’s laws do not differ much from those of the Islamic State Caliphate, with draconian morality rules for women. Although women have been pushing the limits of the dress code for decades, the regime clamps down on  women who are deemed to be “badly veiled”.

The White Wednesdays campaign against compulsory hijab is a platform for women who resist compulsory hijab laws. The Islamic Republic is terrified of such acts of civil disobedience. That’s why six women were given more than 100 years prison sentence.  

Mojgan Keshavarz was given a sentence of 23 years and six months, while Monireh Arabshahi and her daughter Yasaman Aryani were each sentenced to 16 years of incarceration

For now, the identity of the woman on the bike is shrouded in mystery. But her brave act has energized Iranian women everywhere.

Promoting the cause of democracy and human rights in Iran should be a pillar of any U.S. national security strategy.

by Masih Alinejad

Outside of the United States, few peoples in the world are more impacted by the results of the U.S. presidential election than the citizens of Iran. President Donald Trump has subjected Iranians to the most punishing sanctions regime in the world, while also making clear his desire to make a deal that will make Iran “very rich, very quickly.” While Vice President Joe Biden has been critical of Trump’s Iran strategy, his own strategy views Iran—and its 80 million inhabitants—primarily through the prism of another nuclear deal. Both miss the point.

For years, U.S. administrations have sought to address the symptoms of Iranian malignancy—its nuclear ambitions and regional extremism—while ignoring the underlying cause, the nature of the Iranian regime. The reality is that as long as Iran is led by a small clique of unaccountable men who rule with an iron fist, America’s four decades of hostility with Iran will never be resolved. For this reason, promoting the cause of democracy and human rights in Iran should be a pillar of any U.S. national security strategy.

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