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Iranian actress who posted photos online not wearing a hijab forced to flee country

By WITW Staff on November 4, 2015

An actress from Iran has gone on the run after igniting a backlash by posting photos of herself on social media showing her not wearing a hijab, the traditional Muslim head cover. Sadaf Taherian began posting the controversial photos on Facebook and Instagram over the last two weeks and the response from Iranians was as swift as it was extreme. In an interview with Masih Alinejad, a journalist who runs a Facebook page called “My Stealthy Freedom,” which features photos and videos of Iranian women walking in public with their heads uncovered, Taherian reportedly said she was initially “nervous” about the reaction the images might trigger. Indeed, many Iranians lashed out at Taherian with insults and called her “immoral.”

Then, the Iranian government piled on, officially denouncing Taherian as an “offender.” When another popular actress came to Taherian’s defense on social media, a spokesman for Iran’s ministry of culture and lslamic guidance said the two actresses would be barred from acting. “As far as this ministry is concerned, these two individuals are no longer considered to be artists any more and do not have any right to act,” said Hossein Noushabadi. The popular TV show starring Taherian was abruptly pulled from the state television network schedule.

Noushabadi went on to question their psychological health, called for them to apologize to the people of Iran and said the two women face legal action. “I did not expect this from the people of Iran, from my own culture. To hear so many insults — I honestly cannot respond to them in the same way. I can only feel sorry for their reaction and I have nothing else to say,” Taherian told Alinejad. “I want to live in a place and live the way that makes me happy.” Right now, that place is the United Arab Emirates, where Taherian is said to be taking asylum. Chekame Chaman-Mah, the actress who publicly defended Taherian, is believed to have also fled the country.

On Wednesday, Taherian continued to post photos of herself not wearing a hijab — her first post on Facebook since October 31. The image, two side-by-side selfies of her in a gym wearing workout clothes, is accompanied by the brief message that translates roughly as “Sport = Health.”

Read the full story at The Telegraph.


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