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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Monday, May 21, 2018

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Iran launches crackdown on Hijab protest, 29 women arrested

29 women arrested by hijab protest

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TEHRAN, Iran - The police in the capital of Iran have arrested about 29 women who were participating in what they are calling the ‘hijab protest.’

According to officials, the 29 women arrested have been accused of being “deceived” into joining protests against a law that makes wearing the hijab compulsory.

The new wave of protests spread across the country and sparked a personal freedoms debate in the country, already rattled by protests this month.

Women across Iran have been staging protests by climbing onto telecom boxes, taking off their headscarves and waving them aloft on sticks.

On Thursday, Tehran police said that the campaign had been instigated from outside Iran through illegal satellite channels.

In a report on Thursday, the semi-official Tasnim news, which is affiliated to the elite Revolutionary Guards said, “Following calls by satellite channels under a campaign called White Wednesdays, 29 of those who had been deceived to remove their hijab have been arrested by the police.”

Meanwhile, the reformist Shargh newspaper carried an article on the protests, featured under the headline, “Reactions to the removal of headscarves in the streets.”

Commenting on the movement, Soheila Jolodarzadeh, a female member of the Iranian parliament, said the protests were the result of longstanding restrictions.

Jolodarzadeh added, “They’re happening because of our wrong approach. We imposed restrictions on women and put them under unnecessary restrains. This is why ... girls of Enghelab Street are putting their headscarves on a stick.”

Meanwhile, Iran’s prosecutor general, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, described the protests as “childish”, “emotionally charged” and instigated “from outside the country.”
A U.S.-based journalist and activist, Masih Alinejad, who started the White Wednesdays campaign in May 2017 said she was encouraging women to wear white headscarves or take them off in protest at the rules.

She was quoted as saying in reports, “The Iranian police announced in 2014 that they’ve warned, arrested or sent to court nearly 3.6 million women because of having bad hijab, so these arrests are not new, if people are protesting it’s exactly because of such a crackdown.”

While women in the country have fought against the hijab for over four decades, the new wave of protests have grabbed more attention and have sparked an extremely rare debate over personal freedom in the country.

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