Iranian Women – Saying ‘No’ to Compulsory Hijabs Since 1979

The Islamic regime began requiring Iranian women to wear the veil (hijab) in public soon after it seized power in Iran in 1979. Three decades later, Iranian police still carry out veil crackdowns every summer to keep a tight grip on the way people dress.

On 10 July, 2012 a Facebook campaign by “Iranian Liberal Students and Graduates” was launched to say ‘No’ to compulsory hijabs.

The “Unveil women's right to unveil” page has got more than 26,000 “likes” so far. Hundreds of men and women have shared their own photos, experiences and comments, adding the logo of the page. Some like to wear the veil and others do not. But all agree it should be their right to choose whether to wear it.

On the Facebook page we read:

The state enforcement of veil has deprived women of their fundamental rights. By placing special police forces in every corner, street and alley, the government spared no expense in trying to adapt women to the regime's narrow minded measures and standards and making women feel harassed and objectified. Although Iranian women have always resisted and disobeyed this inhumane law and treatment, those enforcing it have never learned their lesson and each year in the summer we witness a new wave of severe crackdown on women.
“Iranian Liberal Students and graduates” announces its “no to mandatory hijab” campaign in solidarity with Iranian women and to emphasize on freedom of attire. We warmly welcome any group or persons who are willing to collaborate and help in this campaign.

Nane Sarma shares [fa] her recent experience in Laleh Park in Tehran, Iran's capital:

I was there with friends and we were laughing, and then the wind blew and my headscarf fell off. The law enforcement officers came over to me. I do not want to speak of their behavior, their threats and so forth… but here's what I observed as I was escorted to exit the park. I saw teenage boys, 13-14 years old smoking cigarettes and bothering people, but they did not get any warning or scolding from security forces. The same ones who previously kicked us out of the park for playing football with both boys and girls. It seems they think we should just find some empty houses, go there to smoke and channel our energies by having sex.

Kamal, an Iranian young man writes [fa]:

I am a Muslim, and I say that according to religious teachings nobody can impose the veil on women.

Nafiseh writes [fa] that she posted her own photo wearing a veil saying, “Even if I wear the veil I don't have right to impose it on others.”

Afsaneh says:

I wish Iran to be a country where the hejab is not compulsory. Those for or against the hejab should be free to choose their way of dressing. Everybody has to respect and accept the other form of living. It is not the problem of women, when (maybe only some) gentlemen get erected by looking at unveiled women. The gentlemen should not be humiliated or offended by such arguments.

Amir Lohrasbi recalls a time in history in the early days of the Islamic Revolution when Iranian newspaper, Ettelat, quoted Ayatollah Mahmoud Taleghani, a leading revolutionary figure who rejected compulsory hijab, and a revolutionary prosecutor who said people who bother women without a veil are counter-revolutionary.

The struggle against compulsory veils began 33 years ago when brave Iranian women demonstrated in defiance in Tehran in March 1979 and were stabbed by pro regime forces. Violence triumphed, the compulsory veil was imposed, but women's desire for free choice prevails beyond repression.


Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.