'Without compulsion'

Why women — and some men — in Iran are wearing white headscarves on Wednesdays

A young Iranian woman taking part in #WhiteWednesdays. (Facebook)

Masih Alinejad, the woman behind the My Stealthy Freedom phenomenon, has launched a new campaign in her quest to reverse Iran’s compulsory hijab law. Using the hashtag #WhiteWednesdays on social media, women and men are posting videos of themselves wearing or carrying white headscarves, or some other white symbol, and sharing messages of empowerment in a show of solidarity with the theme of “without compulsion.”

Alinejad came up with the idea, she told Women in the World by email, as a response to a video clip showing a woman criticizing those celebrating Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s re-election to a second term that surfaced on social media. In the video, the woman, clad in black and a full veil, slammed women who don’t wear the hijab or wear it improperly as “dishonorable,” Alinejad said.

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. #پاسخ_به_خانم_چادري اگر سخني با اين خانم داريد همانند خودش با يك نوشته اي در دست از خودتان كوتاه فيلم بگيريد تا در تبلت پخش شود. تلگرامم: 0017184064505 پاسخ خودم: خانم عزيز حيا كن خودخواهي را رها كن. ايران براي همه ايرانيان است چه شما كه حجاب داريد چه كساني كه حجاب اجباري را نمي خواهند. ما به زور چادر از سر شما نكشيديم پس شما هم به زور حجابت را ما به تحميل نكن. اگر هم مي گويي اينجا كشور اسلامي است، يك نگاهي به كشورهاي اسلامي ديگر بنداز به جز عربستان بقيه كشورها به زور و اجبار و باتوم حجاب بر سر زنان نمي كنند. اگر هم مي گويي هر كشور قانوني خودش را دارد، خب برده داري هم يك زماني قانوني بود. خود جمهوري اسلامي هم براي اعتراض به قوانين رژيم گذشته شكل گرفت پس شما نمي تواني بگويي هر كشوري قانون خودش را دارد. قانون بد را بايد به چالش كشيد. #نافرمانى_مدنى

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Since issuing her #WhiteWednesdays call, Alinejad has been bombarded with videos from Iranians who support the cause. “I hope our white headscarves become a symbol of free choice and the relentless battle for equality,” Alinejad said, adding that this campaign is aimed at being inclusive to women who choose to wear the hijab, but still oppose “the idea of imposing it on others.”

Here’s a video of Alinejad explaining the inspiration behind the idea.

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بي حجاب فحش نيست، چادري فحش نيست اينها حق انتخابه. ولي من حتي از فحش و ناسزا هم نمي ترسم. #پاسخ_به_خانم_چادري قرار ما همين چهارشنبه هر جا كه هستيد #چهارشنبه_های_بدون_اجبار #چهارشنبه_های_سفید . شما هم ويديوهاتون در مخالفت با حجاب اجباري را برايم بفرستيد. آقايون با دستبند سفيد و زنان با شال سفيد فيلم بگيريد. نماد مخالفت ما با اجبار رنگ صلح است و سفيد. ايران براي همه است چه با حجاب چه بدون حجاب. #WhiteWednesdays

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And below are some of the videos she’s received and posted on social media in response.

“We are inviting all women, veiled or unveiled, to show their solidarity with us.

“Boys and girls, please participate in this campaign by wearing a white symbol.”

“I hope for a day that women have the right to choose what they want to wear.”


In recent weeks, Alinejad has exposed the crackdown in Iran on women not wearing a hijab and, through videos sent to her by women who have had brushes with the morality police, provided a glimpse inside their vehicles and shown how they behave during an arrest.


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