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Second woman 'arrested' in Tehran for hijab protest

03 February 2018

Iranians appear to have taken inspiration from a woman who landed in jail late last month for a peaceful protest against Iran's strict Islamic dress code, echoing frustration at official restrictions on women's appearance in public.

The as-yet unidentified woman was detained in Tehran after standing on a telecoms box, taking off her headscarf and holding it in the air on a stick.

A widely shared smartphone image of the first protest showed a young woman standing on a telecoms box on Enghelab Street in the centre of the Iranian capital.

After a similar action last month, 31-year-old Vida Movahed was arrested in central Tehran.

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Many Islamists believe hijab should not be imposed by the law, though they consider it a religious task for every Muslim woman.

Movahed's act of resistance coincided with a wave of protests that spread across the country.

Narges Hosseini was arrested within 10 minutes of removing her hijab along with two people filming her, Iran's foremost human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, told The Guardian.

Now Iranians on social media praising the protesters claim "the girl from Enghelab Street" has proliferated, and photos testifying to a budding headache for Iranian authorities emerged one after the other on social media on January 29.

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"Women show their opposition to such forceful approaches by their very clothing, from resisting covering their hair to wearing long boots and leggings", she wrote in a series of tweets this week.

According to author Mona Eltahawy, "a total of 6 women made the same symbolic gesture: taking off their head scarves in public & waving them on a stick, emulating a young woman who climbed on the same sort of utility box on Dec.27 & was subsequently arrested", she said on Twitter Tuesday. Despite this, a growing number of women in Iran continue to defy the government's encroachment on policing women's bodies by getting creative with their hijab and of the law.

The December demonstrations started as protests against soaring food prices before quickly turning political as widespread corruption, as well as Iran's costly interventions in Syria and Iraq, further incited public anger. Despite the fear of reprisals, millions of women in Iran defy the restrictions on a daily basis.

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Second woman 'arrested' in Tehran for hijab protest