by Poorang Novak
According to Shaparak Shajarizadeh, who says she has left Iran to escape “injustices”, she has been sentenced to two years in prison in addition to an 18-year suspended prison term for peacefully protesting the obligatory hijab rule, by removing her head scarf in public in Tehran in December,
Shajarizadeh participated in a live broadcast on social media this week, and talked about her prison sentence for opposing the compulsory hijab. “This means that I will have to be silent for 20 years and not get involved in an activities,” Shajarizadeh said on Instagram. She also said, “Due to the injustices in Iran’s judicial system, I had to leave the country.”
In late April, Shajarizadeh was released on bail.
Nasrin Sotoudeh, the prominent human rights lawyer who represented Shajarizadeh and other women arrested for opposing the compulsory hijab, was arrested last month.
Iranian authorities announced earlier this year, that they had detained 29 women who removed their head scarves as part of a campaign against the country's mandatory Islamic dress code. According to police, the women had been “tricked” into removing their veil by a propaganda campaign conducted by Iranians living abroad.
The hijab has an important place in the power dynamic between society and the ruling Iranian regime. During the revolution in 1978-79, led by Ayatollah Khomeini, the hijab became a symbol of resistance and protest against the monarchy of Mohammad Reza Shah. The Pahlavi regime of the Shah and his predecessor had attempted to modernize the country, but its policies clashed with the religious values of a large part of the population.
After the 1979 revolution, adherence to an Islamic dress code became compulsory. Women’s dress codes in Iran were used as an excuse to clamp down on domestic opposition forces and to introduce strict domestic laws. In 1985, it became mandatory for women to wear the hijab, with a law that forced all women in Iran, regardless of their religious beliefs, to dress in accordance with Islamic teachings. The hijab became a tool for implementing the government’s strict religious ideology.
While morality police regularly crack down on those who are not respecting rules relating to the hijab, a newly released report by the Iranian government shows that 49% of the population are against the country’s compulsory hijab law, although the real number is likely to be higher.