The National Iranian American Council released the following statement on protests led by Iranian women against compulsory hijab:
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“In recent days, many Iranians have taken to the streets to protest the laws mandating women to wear hijab in public spaces, replicating the protest of Vida Movahed in December who was detained by authorities after standing on a telecom box and waving her headscarf on a stick on Enghelab Street. Reports that dozens of women have been arrested for their purported involvement in peaceful protests are deeply concerning. These individuals, like any detained unjustly, should be released without delay.
“Women in Iran have been their own best champions and have pursued a dignified and non-violent campaign for equality for decades. They have historically been a vibrant and leading presence in shaping the trajectory of the social and political landscapes of their society. They are themselves the most critical actors in this debate. Just as with other legitimate protests in Iran, it is important that outside actors do not try to use the justified grievances of the Iranian people to advance their own ends – separate from that of the people in Iran.
“The Iranian government must observe the right of both women and men – enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which Iran has ratified – to free speech and peaceful assembly. Additionally, the UDHR entitles all Iranians to equal protection of the law without discrimination. Unfortunately, the discrimination women in Iran face goes far beyond the hijab – it is systemic and affects women in almost every aspect of their lives from employment to inheritance laws.
“The ongoing protests show that the women of Iran continue their dignified, long-standing and non-violent struggle against the systemic discrimination they face. The government of Iran should heed their voices.”