CEMB to Protest Mandatory Hijab in Iran

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The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) will be Protesting Mandatory Hijab in Iran in support of the White Wednesday campaign.

‘One of my earliest memories is seeing a woman being brutally beaten by a committee member کمیته in Tehran. I saw her silhouette running away, through the matte glass of our entrance door, while she was being chased and repeatedly beaten by the man, using a stick or something similar. I could hear her screaming and the man following her and shouting. Afterwards, she was badly bruised and very distressed. Her crime: the committee member had not judged her to be dressed modestly enough. She banged on our door and my mum lent her a chador so she could go home. I was four years old at the time. What I saw that day has always stayed with me.’ – Sindbad, Iranian atheist and member of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain will be protesting the mandatory hijab law in Iran on Wednesday 31st January 2018, at the Embassy of Iran in Kensington, London. In a press release, CEMB expounded upon the goals of the protest:

‘We wish to condemn Iran’s mandatory hijab laws and the regressive Islamist notion that all women should be made to wear Islamic clothing, in spite of their individual beliefs and values.’

In Iran, women are compelled by law to wear a hijab and what is described as ‘long loose clothing’ in public from the age of 6-7. They also have to endure other discriminatory practises, such as enforced gender segregation.

‘As many of our members are Iranians who have fled to Britain to escape the Islamist regime, we wish to say “compulsory hijab is not our culture!” to the world.’

CEMB aims to show its support of the women who are fighting to end compulsory hijab laws within Iran, particularly those taking part in the My Stealthy Freedom campaign, where women in Iran post pictures of themselves removing their hijabs in public online, at their own personal risk, and the White Wednesdays campaign, where women in Iran post pictures of themselves wearing white clothing on social media to protest compulsory hijab laws.

Iran, CEMB, my stealthy freedom, hijab, protests, Vida Movahed

From My Stealthy Freedom Facebook page

‘In a country where government critics are often imprisoned and tortured on vague charges, this is an act of incredible bravery’, states CEMB. ‘We ask the British public, especially feminists and women’s rights supporters to support the campaign to end the mandatory hijab laws in Iran.’

Members of the public can support the protests by liking and sharing the My Stealthy Freedom pages on Facebook and Twitter and joining in with the White Wednesday campaign by posting a picture of themselves (AKA a selfie) wearing white on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter on a Wednesday using the hashtags #MyStealthyFreedom, #WhiteWednesdays and #WhiteWednesday, and writing a message of solidarity.

Iran, CEMB, my stealthy freedom, hijab, protests, Vida Movahed

Women participating in White Wednesdays. [YouTube]

CEMB has intentionally timed its protest to coincide with World Hijab Day on February the 1st.

‘We do agree with the World Hijab Day movement in the statement that women should be free to wear a hijab if they so wish, and that hijabi women should be free from harassment, discrimination, and abuse as they go about their business. However, we also believe that campaigns such as these seek to whitewash that millions of women in the world are compelled to wear hijab against their will, either by Islamist states, or family or community pressure. We also reserve the right to make criticisms of the ideology behind hijab and “modesty culture” within Islam.’

A growing number of women in Iran, especially in the capital of Tehran, are refusing to don the mandatory head-covering, or hijab, while driving.

Since late December 2017, protests focusing on the government’s economic policies have sprung up in the country and their scope has since widened to include opposition against its theocratic regime and against Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Some of the protests have turned violent, with protestors and police clashing and with some demonstrators even shouting, ‘Death to the dictator!’, ‘Death to Rouhani!’, and ‘We don’t want an Islamic Republic!’

Women waving their hijabs in protest of the religious dress code have become symbols of the revolution. Vida Movahed, a 31-year-old whose defiance and subsequent arrest drew the attention of the world and prompted the viral hashtag with the question ‘Where is she?’. Last Sunday, news of her release spread on social media, though it has not been confirmed whether she has been arrested again.

Iran, CEMB, my stealthy freedom, hijab, protests, Vida Movahed

Vida Movahed’s defiance against the regime’s religious dress code has become a symbol of the Iran protests.

Reportedly, other women following Movahed’s example have also been detained and Mahmoud Sadeghi, reformist lawmaker, claims that as many as 3,700 protestors have been arrested.

Iran is the subject of much international condemnation for its harsh punishments for victimless crimes, including fornication, for the use of capital punishment against homosexuals, and for its many other human rights violations.

Iran, CEMB, my stealthy freedom, hijab, protests, Vida Movahed

Demonstrators protest Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to Paris in January 2016. Iran executed at least 966 prisoners in 2015, the highest number in over two decades, according to Ahmed Shaheen, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Iran. (Christophe Ena / Associated Press)

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Sarah Mills is a managing editor and writer at Conatus News.

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