Iranian police have confirmed that twenty-nine women who had protested against the laws had been arrested only recently. They had joined the “Girls of Revolution Street” movement which officially is held to be treasonous, immoral and of being puppets of imperialist anti-Islamist foreigners.
Alinejad, who now lives in New York in self-imposed exile since 2009, has received death threats since her campaign began but she is undeterred saying, “I am full of hope. Civil disobedience is the first step to gain our victory.”
One young Iranian woman, Narges Hosseini, who was arrested for protesting the hijab law on 29 January, is being held in Iran’s notorious Gharchak Prison, and she is unable to pay the $US135,000 set as bail by the judge presiding over her case. Her crime was that she allowed herself to be photographed standing on a bench in public waving her hijab like a flag with her face and head fully exposed.
Under Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, she is charged with “openly committing a haram (sinful) act”, “violating public prudency” and “encouraging immorality or prostitution”. If convicted – and there is a virtual 100% chance of that – she could face up to ten years in jail and up to seventy-four lashes.
Typically, for women who openly rebel against the hijab laws, she is accused of being a drug addict. A government spokesman said the hijab protesters “have been taking industrial drugs and participating in an organised plot hatched abroad”.
The Prosecutor-General said the protests were a “minor issue”, that the protestors were “childish” and that “anyone appearing on the street without a hijab is committing a crime and can be pursued by the law”.
“We will not allow the enemy to carry out their plans,” he said.
In London, the Conservative government was embarrassed when somebody in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office leaked an internal memo that promoted the wearing of the hijab on WHD and even promising to issue staff with “free scarves” for those who chose to try it.
The memo read: “Would you like to try on a Hijab or learn why Muslim women wear the headscarf? Come along to our walk-in event. Free scarves for all those who choose to wear it for the day or part of the day. Muslim woman, along with followers of many other religions, choose to wear the Hijab. Many find liberation, respect and security through wearing it.” It also provided the address of the Departmental event and invited staff to visit.
After delay after delay citing all sorts of specious reasons, the Department finally issued a statement five days after the memo went public in British media: “This was an internal event for staff in London who wished to gain a better understanding of the different cultural and social issues they may face when working overseas.” And, no, they didn’t identify what were the “many other religions” apart from Islam that has its women wear hijabs.
The normally loquacious Foreign Secretary, the irrepressible Boris Johnson, remained tight-lipped. It seems he wasn’t aware of what his Department was doing on WHD according to “informed sources” quoted in British media. “Informed sources” usually means a Minister or senior staff member is giving the official view but not wanting to be directly quoted.
While World Hijab Day is, so far, a voluntary movement, the question arises as to whether it might get an official United Nations endorsement in the future. The UN has only six “International Days” set aside for joyous celebration or sad commemoration in February and that day is still mercifully free.
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, founded in 1969, has fifty-seven nation members, fifty-six of which are members of the UN. There are 193 member countries so fifty-six is a solid voting bloc.
Last year, WHD transformed itself into World Hijab Day Organisation Inc, a non-profit outfit in the USA with the mission “to fight discrimination against Muslim Women though awareness and education.”
Don’t expect them to reach out and support the imprisoned women in Iran. After all, those women are immoral, disgusting, vile and disruptive aren’t they? And imperialist puppets and drug addicts.