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"Come and Arrest Me as Well": National Day of Hijab and Chastity Sparks More Resistance

IRAN: July 12 was declared a “National Day of Hijab and Chastity” by the IRI, further institutionalizing a wave of brutal enforcement by the “Morality Police.” Over the past months, special “Morality Police vans” have circulated in the streets, with Morality Police squads leaping out to harass and beat women on the street for “improper hijab” (e.g., headscarf not covering hair fully).  They have kidnapped women and dragged them into the vans, and threatened shopkeepers to force them to refuse service to “improper hijab” women. Even before this campaign, millions of women were stopped yearly, and tens of thousands of them fined for “improper hijab,” according to CHRI’s Fact Sheet on Women’s Rights in Iran (2020).

In response, more than 120 women’s and LGBT+ rights activists bravely signed a statement, “No Means No to Compulsory Hijab” ahead of the day.

On July 12, #No2Hijab and #حجاب_بی_حجاب trended on Persian-language social media, with dozens of women posting photos and videos of themselves removing the headscarf while walking on the street, waving it, or throwing it off and stomping on it. A husband stood with his wife and waved her headscarf. In one video, passersby surround a morality police van to defend a woman who had been waving her hijab and chanting.

In a video promoting #No2Hijab which shows attacks on women and their resistance, a woman declares, while walking on the street with her hair uncovered: “They arrested Yasaman, Mojgan became her voice. They arrested Mojgan, Fereshteh became her voice. They arrested Fereshteh, but me, Ava, will be her voice (referring to several women imprisoned for protesting compulsory hijab). Come and arrest me as well. Go on and arrest everyone campaigning for peace, freedom and human dignity. I’m addressing you, Khamenei [Iran’s ‘Supreme Leader’]”.

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