As American women celebrated Independence Day and freedom with parades, picnics, fireworks displays, and demands for free birth control, a handful of Iranian women bravely shed their hijabs and posted their pictures on Facebook along with messages about what freedom means to them. The Facebook page, My Stealthy Freedom, created in May by Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad, currently has over 550,000 likes and offers women the opportunity to anonymously share photos of themselves with their heads uncovered — an act of cultural and religious disobedience that could have serious repercussions in the repressive Iranian society governed by Islamic law.
One young woman, wearing a full black hijab, is shown standing next to the street at night with her head uncovered. She says, “Although people gave me blaming looks, the sweetness of that moment has remained unforgettable.”
Messages of support in Persian and English poured in from around the world: the United States, Denmark, Pakistan, Yemen, Canada, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Belgium and Israel. One Iranian man simply said, “I’m sorry.”
Another young woman posed in a field with her headscarf billowing in the breeze.
Her message is inspiring:
Shiraz, my stealthy freedoms, and I
I’ll let the wind blow my burnt moments away. I don’t mind whatever comes next
Freedom is a right I am entitled to have in my life; and I will take it back!
God created freedom! human beings were the ones who created servitude
Hey freedom! All we’ve ever known about you has been just your name ! We have been robbed of you as long as the history
I am a girl from Shiraz. I’ll raise my hand and practice freedom. Freedom! I want you to know that this exhausted bird will go on searching for you and trying to attain you forever.
One man responded to her post:
“The rights [to religious freedom] are of the natural rights of mankind, and … if any act shall be … passed to repeal [an act granting those rights] or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right,” by Thomas Jefferson.
Support from Sweden, for your (Iranian women´s and men´s) right to freedom and all other true democratic rights!
Another woman flaunted her uncovered head on the side of a busy highway in front of what appears to be a billboard with the faces of Iranian mullahs.
I’ll say this simply, I want freedom. It is my right as a human being to be free. I want to shout out my freedom! Exactly in front of the billboard behind me!! I was pulled over one time while driving, because of “inappropriate dressing.” They towed away my car and called me to court. We are suffocating here under the ruling of this tyranny.
The young woman below normally hides beneath a head scarf. But on this day, her shocking pink tresses hung out the car window and she experienced the freedom of the breeze blowing through her hair, something most American women take for granted. She commented: “We have to respect each other instead of misjudging each other.” She added, “My hair, the blowing wind, and I… in city of Daar-Al-Ebadeh, Yazd.” Her smile of exhilaration speaks volumes about the simple joys of life that are not available to most Iranian women.
Though Iran’s current president, Hassan Rouhani, has expressed a more progressive view on the subject of the strict Islamic dress code than his predecessors, religious police still monitor loose hijabs and inappropriate clothing during the sweltering summer months. The photos and cries for freedom are especially poignant during this month, as Muslims celebrate Ramadan.
Earlier in the week one woman posted a heartbreaking message about the true state of women’s oppression in Iran: “Me & my stealthy freedom in Qeshm. I am 27. … I feel more secure with these camels than with Iran’s Police.”
One young woman posed, head uncovered, on a beach with her beautiful toddler boy. Will that little boy grow up to support his mother’s quest for freedom or is he a future oppressor?
I’ve lived for years in an Iran where the Islamic Republic rules over it and deprives me and people like me of the most natural personal right, and this is how freedom of clothes became an enormous dream for us. For as long as I can remember, many things have been banned for women and girls in Iran, even the most natural human rights such as hijab and choice of clothing. I have always dreamed, and still do, that Iran would become a free Iran. Free so that all of us, especially women, can dress however they please and are comfortable with and be able to leave the house, without fearing that their choice of clothing is considered a crime.
And finally, the photo below, from a woman who recently emigrated to the United States, which aptly demonstrates the profound gulf between the freedoms American women enjoy and the oppression experienced by women living under totalitarian Islamic regimes around the world.
I have always thought of freedom this way: Freedom means to be able to do anything you want provided that you don’t trample anyone else’s rights. … Having that in mind I could never understand why I couldn’t choose my clothing. Would it trample others’ rights if I don’t wear the hijab???
This photo was taken by a friend of mine on Namak Abrood shore in Iran a year before my husband and I immigrated to the United States of America. It’s been 4 years since our immigration now and I have neither got raped because of my clothing (some believe such acts are caused by not wearing the hijab by women!) nor ever heard an offensive word.
While American women are obsessing about #BanBossy and the contrived #WarOnWomen, Iranian women have a much more courageous hashtag that represents their real battle for tangible freedom: #mystealthyfreedom