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Thursday, September 21, 2023

Veda Movahedi: Idol of Iranian Hijab protest gets early release from prison

Veda Movahedi, the icon of Iran’s Girls of the Revolution Street who had risen to fame for sparking protests by taking off her hijab in public, has been granted an early release from prison.


A woman jailed in Iran for one year for removing her hijab in public to protest against the country’s Islamic dress code has been released early, her lawyer said Tuesday. “Vida Movahedi was summoned by prison authorities on Sunday evening and told that her sentence had been commuted, and combined with some accumulated furlough she was free to go,” Payam Derafshan told AFP.

Movahedi, who is in her mid-20s, was arrested in October after removing her hijab from her head at Tehran’s Enghelab Square. She was charged with “encouraging corruption and debauchery” and sentenced by a court in Tehran to 12 months in prison on March 2, Derafshan added.

Opposition to Compulsory Hijab

The lawyer said Movahedi had stated her opposition to the “compulsory hijab” and that she wanted to express her opinion in “a civil protest”.

Veda was arrested from the protest site, which is remembered as the “White Wednesday” protest against Iranian rules for female clothing.

Movahedi’s lawyer, Payam Derafshan, shared with the state-sponsored Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) that the remainder of Movahedi’s one-year sentence has been waved off. He added that his client has no intention of plotting anything, and she “simply wanted to express a personal celebration, and in order to avoid any links with those who went abroad and tried to take political advantage of her personal action, she has always refused to express her views through foreign media outlet.”

Derafshan concluded, “So, therefore, the judge, taking into consideration that she’s the mother of a small child, decided to expedite her freedom.” As per the Article 638 of the Iranian Islamic Penal code, women who are caught without a compulsory hijab in public places and roads shall be sentenced to ten days to two months of imprisonment, a fine f 50 thousand to five hundred rials”.

Girls of Revolution Street

Under the Islamic dress code, women can only show their face, hands and feet in public and are supposed to wear only modest colours. Movahedi has staged protests in the past.

Read more: The irony: Islamic University bans Hijab

In December 2017, she stood on a pillar box on Enghelab Avenue without the mandatory long coat and raised her white veil on a stick. After pictures of a bare-headed and defiant Veda waving her white headscarf like a flag began circulating, more and more women in Iran began calling out the compulsion of wearing a hijab.

Veda was arrested from the protest site, which is remembered as the “White Wednesday” protest against Iranian rules for female clothing. A day after, Iran was gripped with economic and political protests, and Iranians began questioning about the wellbeing of the woman who had removed her headscarf in public.

Enghelab means revolution in Farsi and the square and avenue are among the busiest areas in the capital. Movahedi’s move sparked similar protests by other women, including some at the same spot, and they soon won recognition as “Dokhtaran-e enghelab”, or the Girls of Revolution Street.

Read more: Forced hijab: Will Iranians ever accept it?

Like other women who copied her, she was arrested, but she was only fined for her first protest.

After her release, Veda Movahedi shared a video message from her lawyer’s office to thank all those who supported her case and voiced their solidarity with her.