The Hijab seems to be at the center of a growing storm that threatens to pit Iranian women against the regime. The Hijab, reintroduced to Iranian women by Khomeini in 1979 has long been an issue among human rights activists and Iranian women on one side and conservative mullahs on the other.
The issue of the Hijab is growing as women fight for their freedom while the regime fights for control. Back in March, Iranian London-based journalist Masih Alinejad opened a facebook page called “My Stealthy Freedom” in which Iranian women were invited to upload pictures of themselves “Hijab-less” – it garnered over 600 thousand fans and tens of thousands of brave Iranian women who chose to break the law. It also created a backlash by conservative hardliners who vowed to punish Alinejad and the Hijab-less women.
According to Article 638 of Iran’s 1996 Islamic Penal Code, “women who appear in the street and public places without the Islamic Hijab will serve time, between ten days and two months, and will have to pay a cash fine”. Morality police hand out tickets which are usually settled through fines although in some instances, women were imprisoned and even whipped.
At the same time, the mullahs and the army are calling for stronger measures to fight “violations of Hijab” fearing that the removing the Hijab is part of a “soft war” against Iran and the basis of the Islamic regime.
President Rouhani’s stance on the Hijab befits his moderate ideals: he is for wearing Hijabs but against zealous enforcement. His tweet congratulating Iranian born professor Maryam Mirzakhani for winning a prestigious math included two pictures of Mirzakhani – one with a Hijab and one without. The Iranian parliament hit back immediately by issuing a “yellow card” against the Minister of Interior and 195 “hardliners” warned Rouhani to take the Hijab more seriously out of fear that liberation from the Hijab is “one of the major examples of enemiesˈ cultural invasion against Iran” by “changing the lifestyle of the Iranian women”