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August 3, 2016

Men in Iran are Wearing Hijabs in Support of Women’s Rights

The fight against the forced hijab has been documented since it began immediately after the 1979 Iranian revolution. Iranian women have gone so far as to shave their heads in protest of wearing the hijab. Last week, however, the fight against forced hijab took a new turn. Iranian men have begun wearing the hijab in public, as well as in social media posts, in protest of the13882194_1455418324472257_9184109751125894604_n forced covering.
The campaign began on the Facebook group My Stealthy Freedom, which has been at the forefront of the fight against forced hijab. One of the submitted posts states “Compulsion is not a good feeling. I hate when they used morality police in order to force my wife to wear compulsory hijab. There are a lot of men in Iran who have respect for women’s freedom of choice, so those conservatives that are not happy with our wives’ “bad hijab”, are not representative of Iranian men at all.”
Masih Alinejad, an Iranian journalist and activist living in New York, is behind the widely popular Facebook group which encourages Iranian women, and now men, to post photos of themselves without their hijabs along with a caption of why they oppose the forced practice. Over one million people have liked the movement on Facebook. Prior to the #meninhijab campaign, the page has almost exclusively been contributed to by brave Iranian women submitting pictures of themselves without their hijab.
Alinejad has received well over 30 images of men in Iran wearing a hijab since she began the campaign on July 22. Men are also posting pictures on their personal social media accounts with the hashtag #meninhijab.
Many of the photos being posted show a man wearing a hijab next to a woman whose hair is uncovered.
This heightened campaign against forced hijab is in opposition to the stance of Iran’s morality police. The Iranian morality police, which reportedly added 7,000 new operatives in Tehran earlier this year, has been a force since the 1979 revolution. This increase in operatives was met with public backlash online and some believe the number to be overly exaggerated to scare the population. One user tweeted: “I wish we were living in a country where instead of undercover agents targeting morality, we had undercover agents targeting corruption of the officials.”
The force is known to frequently harass women. It is routine for officers to physically remove “excessive” makeup off of women, for women to get dragged to police stations where they have to wait for a family member to come and give a written promise that they will never commit the offense again, and to receive fines upwards of $250.
However, Iranian women and men show no sign of stopping their campaign against forced hijab. Iranian women continue to test the boundaries of dress code enforcement by replacing their chadors with fashionable headscarves and dresses. They also are continuing to test these limits by pushing their headscarves further and further back so their hair is showing.
Another post from the page states: “The fact that they [women] are forced to wear som13882511_1457138630966893_4064358507491324802_nething against their will tarnishes, in reality, the image of Iranians everywhere in the world. That’s why this new campaign can at the same time draw attention to the plight of Iranian and also show the real face of Iran and Iranians.”
Yet again, the #meninhijab campaign highlights the sharp contrast that is often found between the hardliners of the Iranian government and the Iranian people. This difference often catches travelers to Iran off-guard. Linda Mason, a writer for CNN, stated in 2015 that “Iran is a young, urban, educated and increasingly Western-oriented population yearning to be part of the international community.” Anthony Bourdain, an American chef, author, and television personality, stated on his arrival to Iran: “I am so confused. It wasn’t supposed to be like this — of all the places, of all the countries, all the years of traveling, it’s here, in Iran, that I am greeted most warmly by total strangers.”
In Iran, only one Persian-speaking news-outlet is covering the movement and has condemned the campaign. However, news of the protest is being covered by major news organizations worldwide from the U.S. to Sweden to India and shows no signs of slowing down.

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