Woman Arrested For Peacefully Protesting Iran’s Compulsory Hijab After Policeman Pushes Her Off Platform
Crowd Attempts to Protect Woman From Police
A woman who was pushed off a utility platform in Tehran by a policeman for peacefully protesting against Iran’s compulsory hijab law was detained later that night on February 22, 2018.
In a video posted on the Telegram messaging app on February 22, some bystanders shout words of support for the woman as the policeman confronts her. When the policeman pushes her down, he turns to the crowd and challenges them to “step forward if you’ve got balls.”
“When the policeman pushed her down in that violent way, it shocked the surrounding crowd,” an eyewitness who requested anonymity for security reasons told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
“The girl was on the ground for a few minutes and she struggled to get up, limping,” added the source. “The crowd quickly surrounded her and didn’t let the police come close.”
“We got her a taxi and she left but the policemen followed her,” said the source. “I heard the taxi was stopped at the next crossing and they arrested her.”
In the clip of the protest posted on Telegram, some people can be heard urging the policeman not to arrest the woman.
Some Iranians took to social media to make fun of the policeman’s reaction.
“You want to know why the people of Iran are fed-up and angry? Here it is: Naked violence against the indisputable basic right to protest,” tweeted former political prisoner Atefeh Nabavi on February 22.
Reformist political activist Hassan Asadi Zeidabadi tweeted, “It’s not the Girl from Revolution St. falling in this clip; it’s actually the declining legitimacy of the state police, which is supposed to protect the lives and security of the people but is instead attacking them and breaking their legs.”
Shargh newspaper reporter Mohammad Mosaed, whose tongue-in-cheek tweet was shared by many, wrote: “We could have hit the girl with an RPG [rocket propelled grenade] but we limited ourselves to throwing her down.”
The eyewitness who spoke to CHRI said that the most recent protest happened on Revolution St. in Tehran on February 22 at 6 pm at the same corner where several other women had displayed the same peaceful protest in recent months.
Women and some men in various Iranian cities have been standing on something that elevates them on the street, removing their headscarves, and waving them on a stick like a flag or in their hand.
All women in Iran are legally required to cover their hair and bodies in public.
Vida Movahed was the first woman to be arrested after she did the same thing in late December 2017 in Tehran. The act of removing your headscarf in public and waving it like a flag has become a symbol for the “Girls of Revolution Street” movement, which advocates choice over compulsion for women’s clothing.
The authorities in Tehran have tried to prevent people from joining the movement by posting additional policemen on busy streets as well as installing slanted metal sheets on top of utility platforms to make it difficult for people to stand on them.
On February 21, the Tasnim News Agency, which is affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, reported that police had arrested 29 women and men in Tehran for engaging in the peaceful protest. Their names were not published and it remains unclear how many remain in detention. The report claimed the protesters had been fooled by the “White Wednesdays” campaign.
White Wednesdays was launched by civil rights activist Masih Alinejad, a former journalist in Iran who now lives in New York, to encourage Iranian women who oppose the mandatory hijab to wear a white scarf on Wednesdays and share images of their uncovered hair on the My Stealthy Freedom page on Facebook.
But some women have stated that their protest actions are not related to Alinejad’s campaign.
Hours after protester Azam (Azi) Jangvari was detained on February 15, the following post appeared on her Instagram page.
“I, Azam (Azi) Jangvari, started my political activities for women in the Reformist Women’s Assembly and the Executives of Construction Party hoping for reform. I’m tired of it. It seems we have to act. Enough slogans. I’ve done this act for freedom, for putting an end to all these laws and regulations against us women and I accept all the consequences. My action has no connection with any group or individual, whether inside or outside Iran. I did this to fight against the mandatory hijab. Let us choose our own hijab. As an individual, I have the right to choose.”
Jangvari is a member of a centrist political party in Iran. It is unknown whether she remains in detention.
Shapark Shajarizadeh is another protester who was arrested in Tehran’s Gheytarieh neighborhood on February 21. Details about her detention have not been released to the public.