Iranian journalist wins rights award for hijab campaign

Masih Alinejad invited women in Iran to post pictures of themselves without their headscarves

Web Desk February 25, 2015
She created the page because she believes women should have the freedom to choose whether to be veiled or not. PHOTO: REUTERS

GENEVA: Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad received a human rights award in Geneva for her Facebook campaign where she invited women in Iran to post pictures of themselves without their headscarves to defy the requirement of wearing hijab, The Guardian reported. 

Alinejad, 38, launched My Stealthy Freedom last year and the page attracted over half a million likes on Facebook in just a few weeks. Thousands of women took off their veils in public and sent in their photos to be published.

She was then given the women's rights award by the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy for "giving a voice to the voiceless and stirring the conscience of humanity to support the struggle of Iranian women for basic human rights, freedom and equality."

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Her campaign agitated Iranian authorities and state-affiliated media launched a smear campaign which accused Alinejad of using recreational drugs or being perverse.



Alinejad said she was delighted to win the award and hoped it would raise awareness about Iranian women demanding basic rights.

“From seven-year-old schoolgirls to 70-year-old grandmothers, women in Iran are all forced to wear the hijab,” she said in a statement published on the summit’s website. “Hopefully this award will create an opportunity for the voices of Iranian women who say no to the forced hijab to echo throughout the halls of the United Nations," she added.

Read: Iran rejects controversial new hijab law

Alinejad told the Guardian last year that she was not opposed to the hijab and her mother too was veiled. She had however, created the page because she wanted women to have the freedom to choose whether they wanted to be veiled or not. The journalist now lives in exile.




“I have no intention whatsoever to encourage people to defy the forced hijab or stand up against it,” she said. “I just want to give voice to thousands and thousands of Iranian women who think they have no platform to have their say.”

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The Facebook page now has more than 760,000 followers after its creation a year ago and still receives photos from Iran. One young woman sent a picture of herself unveiled with a message reading: “We have never asked to go to heaven by force. Do not turn our lives in this world to hell for the sake of that heaven. We would like to taste the real freedom, not the stealthy one.”

Read: Qatar hijab row prompts 'revision process'

Many Iranian men have also supported the campaign. One man took a picture of himself along with his mother while she was without veil last week, saying they were both against compulsory hijab. “As someone belonging to the new generation of this country with my mother, [we are] firmly defending one of the most basic human rights,” read his message. “We have the best judgment ourselves and we do not need anyone to guide us on our behalf," he also said.

Alinejad's campaign sparked a reaction globally and news of her receiving the award was commended by many on social media.



Ammar Mirjat | 6 years ago | Reply @Hamza: You find the most rape cases outside of muslim countries because people are not afraid to report them. In countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, rape victims are subject to lashes or stoning to adultery if they cannot bring up four witnesses and are convicted of adultery, so women do not report cases. So just because there is a higher percent of rape cases being reported in other countries, it doesn't mean that there are fewer rapes in muslim countries. There is just a much greater chance of justice being given in non-muslim countries than in muslim ones. Deal with it.
Hamza | 6 years ago | Reply Hijab is not only for Muslims women but Jewish & Christian also wear it. and @Anand Rathore, hijab protect women violation. Therefore, there are the number of rape cases in areas/countries where women expose their hair mostly.
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