Iranian women take off hijabs in public to protest law

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The woman, who was arrested January 29 after removing her hijab on a busy street in downtown Tehran, appears to have been inspired by the "Girl of Revolution Street", an unidentified woman who removed her hijab and waved it like a flag over Tehran's Enqelab (Revolution) Street December 27, 2017. Sotoudeh said on her Facebook page on Sunday that Movahed had been released.

Another woman protested against the obligatory headscarf in Iran on Monday, she and another lady were arrested witnesses tell me. One has reportedly been detained by the authorities, while the fates of the others are unclear.

Iranian law has compelled women to wear a hijab since the 1979 revolution, but it has been a hard policy to enforce.

Women showing their hair in public can be jailed for up to two months or fined.

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"The girl from Enghelab Street is being multiplied while blowing a new spirit to the civil-rights struggle and civil disobedience of the Iranian people", dissident journalist and former Culture Ministry official Issa Saharkhiz said in a Twitter post that included an image from Isfahan. But in 1941 Reza Shah abdicated to the Crown Prince Mohammad-Reza, who relaxed the dress code and allowed women to wear the hijab if they chose.

"That directive was an important step forward, but more or less reflected the reality on the ground in the capital where hijab has been increasingly loosely adhered to in some quarters", Gissou Nia, a human rights lawyer based in Las Angeles and focused on Iran, told Newsweek. However, at least two women have, including one on Monday.

The so-called "hijab protest" seems to have struck a chord with many - especially younger - Iranians.

On Monday, reacting to the new protest, Sotoudeh wrote: "Today, I was informed that a second woman has stood on a telecoms box in the same place, holding up her hijab aloft on a stick. Since then, we've seen other acts of protests against the imposition of the dress code", Ebadi told RFE/RL in a reference to broad expressions of concern almost four decades ago.

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The issue of Iran's dress code for women has emerged as a major source of tension in recent years.

Vida Movahed's protest in the centre of Tehran last month.

While not directly linked with the wave of political protest which hit Iran at the time, "her action embodied the aspirations of a movement of young Iranians frustrated with the lack of social and political freedoms", says The Guardian.

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