You might have seen pictures such as this, of a man wearing a hijab and dressed like a woman, don’t let them fool you, they are not among the many who make Iran the second largest country of transsexuals; rather, they are campaigning for the release of Majid Tavakoli.
Tavakoli was arrested on Students Day, Dec. 7, after giving an impassioned speech during a protest at Tehran’s Amir Kabir University. After his arrest, according to Radio Free Europe,
The semi-official Fars news agency posted pictures of Tavakoli dressed as a woman after he reportedly tried to escape by disguising himself. Fars paired a picture of Tavakoli with one of Abol Hassan Bani Sadr, Iran’s first president after the 1979 revolution, who reportedly escaped in 1981 disguised as a woman.*
The government has spread the picture of him dressed like a woman to shame him, but it backfired as he has become another accidental hero and rallying point for the protesters.
In a rapid response to his arrest, The Free Majid Tavakoli Facebook Page was created and notes his last Facebook updates,
‘Only two more days [to Monday’s demonstrations]. I have spent ten exhausting days on the road with more than 100 hours of driving and now I have to leave for Tehran.
… I welcome and accept all the dangers, standing next to my friends with whom I am honored and proud to be on 16 Azar shoulder to shoulder we will shout against tyranny. For Freedom.’
In solidarity with Tavakoli, hundreds of men around the world and in Iran have donned the hijab for his release. You can also see a video of them here.
Tavakoli is one of the hundreds of thousands who protested on Monday despite the risks, and he was one of the more than a hundred who were arrested that same day. Despite the censorship, arrests, killings, and torture, the perseverance and continued ingenuity demonstrated by the Iranian protesters is undeniable and they proved once again, that this movement is a marathon, not a race.
*Update: A protester in Iran clarified that Tavakoli did not dress as a woman when he tried to escape, in fact the details of his attempted escape is not clear, rather, the government dressed him as a woman solely to shame him.