Iran’s government continues its intense campaign to force women to wear the hijab, as public debate on the issue flares up each day with fresh news of confrontations.
A woman who was arrested because of an acrimonious dispute with a hijab enforcer in a city bus was identified as Sepideh Rashno, an educated person with a good public profile, Iran International has learned.
Rashno – a 28-year-old artist, writer and editor – was arrested on Saturday evening, July 16, after a video of her quarrel with a woman enforcing hijab rules – identified as Rayeheh Rabi’i -- went viral.
In the video Rabi’i, who was fully covered by a long, black ‘chador’ – which is typical of the supporters of the Islamic Republic – is seen shouting at Rashno who had unveiled in the transit bus. The quarrel became so frantic that other passengers intervened and kicked the hijab enforcer out of the bus.
Rabi’i was also recording the incident and threatening the hijab-protester to send it to the Revolutionary Guards. There are unconfirmed reports on social media that Rabi’i’s father is a member of the Revolutionary Guard’s Basij paramilitary force and was involved in the crackdown of popular protests in 2009.
Some government officials, including the head of the Islamic Development Organization, have praised Rabi’i and called on people to confront women who unveil in public.
IRGC affiliated Fars news broke the news which could frighten people whose support for anti-hijab protests are growing, adding that several other anti-hijab activists had also been arrested since Iranian women launched a campaign against the compulsory Islamic dress code on July 12.
In another video released this week, a man started berating a few teenage girls who had removed their hijab at a subway station in Tehran, but other people came to help and sent the angry man away. The number of videos of confrontations between anti-hijab protesters and hijab enforcers are growing in social media.
In a statement released on Sunday, Iran’s exiled queen Farah Pahlavi condemned the widespread arrests of civil and human rights activists in Iran, particularly the anti-hijab activists.
Denouncing the violent behavior of the morality – or hijab – police while arresting the protesters, she said that “not a day goes by without news and images of attacks on women and violation of their rights, disturbing the souls of noble Iranians, but the news of the civil struggle of women and men of my land against any kind of coercion and discrimination is a source of pride and honor.”
Iranians deserve peaceful coexistence no matter their beliefs, clothing or lifestyle as it was like this before the Islamic Revolution and will become so thanks to people, she said.
She noted that the will and civil courage of Iranian men and women is greater and stronger “than the oppressors’ power.”
On July 12, following a call by women’s rights activists for civil disobedience with the hashtag of ‘No2Hijab’ social media exploded with dozens of videos and photos of women unveiling in public.
Iran has started arresting women who participated in the nationwide campaign against the compulsory Islamic dress code this week.
For the past few weeks, the government has increased harassment of women for their insufficient hijab and many have been detained by special police patrols.