Masih Alinejad, the exiled Iranian activist behind “My Stealthy Freedom,” a popular Facebook page devoted to opposing the compulsory hijab in her country, is receiving public death threats because of her activism. She recently launched “White Wednesdays,” a campaign during which women and men wear white clothing or a white headscarf in a symbolic protest against the compulsory hijab. Earlier this month, Women in the World reported about the ugly social media smear campaign she had fallen victim too, but to make matters worse she now has been subjected to death threats online. Social media posts attributed to Iranian cleric Reza Yasrebii threatened her life, though it’s not been verified that the posts were posted by the cleric himself.
“Do you think it is hard for us to find you in England? Do you think elimination of you from the face of earth is hard for us? With the White Wednesdays, you are destroying all our efforts. You should not use the media against Islam. Watch out, do not make us do to you what we did to Farrokhzad,” the post attributed to the cleric said on Instagram. It referenced dissident singer and political figure Fereydoun Farrokhzad, who was stabbed to death in Germany in 1992, presumably by the Iranian government.
When reached by Women in the World, Alinejad explained that she believes these threats came from a fake account. “Immediately after receiving this threat, I attempted to get in touch with ‘Reza Yasrebii’ and asked him whether this was a fake account and if not, to explain himself. I asked him whether he wanted to conduct a phone interview with me. However, I never received any response. This account seems to have disappeared ever since,” Alinejad explained in an email to Women in the World. She said the threat was likely an attempt to scare her. “It is quite peculiar and unlikely that a cleric would so naively threaten to kill me in public knowing that this would generate reactions and that he would be covered by the news.”
Another Iranian cleric reportedly made comments likening women who wear no veils or improperly wear them to prostitutes. Hojatoleslam Seyed Ebrahim Hosseini reportedly said “The white veil, like those green and purple wristbands — they all smell of sedition. They’re all like flags that prostitutes would hang over their roofs in the [Dark Ages],” during a sermon earlier this month. The remarks appear to be directed at Alinejad’s White Wednesday’s movement.
Alenijad added that she hoped the threats would not discourage people from joining her “beautiful and peaceful” protest movement — as evidenced in the video below of a wife who asked her husband to walk hand in hand with her to march against the compulsory hijab.