Launched by Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad in 2014, My Stealthy Freedom is a commendable campaign that shows women going against the strict hijab restrictions in Iran. This movement has recently gained a lot of momentum on their Facebook page and is currently even gaining support from tourists in Iran. Ms. Alinejad shares photos of men in hijabs and women inside Iran who have taken part in a moment of 'stealthy freedom' by removing their hijabs to the outside world.
In regards to the men posting photos in hijabs to the campaign, she describes, “Most of these men are living inside Iran and they have witnessed how their female relatives have been suffering at the hands of the morality police and humiliation of enforced hijab." Men in Iran have uploaded photos on social media in hijab to fight against women being forced to cover their hair in public. Hijabs have been heavily enforced in Iran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Women who choose to go without a headscarf, as well as women dressed 'bad hijab' by having hair show face punishments from the so-called 'morality police' ranging from fines to imprisonment.
Men and women are continuing to stand against regulations that impose women to wear hijab in the My Stealthy Freedom campaign.
This man [above] sent in a picture wearing his cousin's headscarf. In the caption, he writes, "I think that one should not talk about freedom if she/he supports the idea of restricting other people's freedom. If only hijab were the only problem in our country, as the authorities would like us to believe. It is as if they have hypnotised our brains with a black piece of cloth and they only want us to believe that hijab is the most important issue in our country." For millions of Iranian women, this compulsory hijab is an insult to their freedom of expression.
In the picture above, the caption wrote, "Does this photo shock you? A group of grown-up men wearing hijabs. Do you find it funny? Does it make any sense? To be frank, you might be tempted to think that it's strange, or even unnatural to see a man in hijab. However, for the past 38 years, women have been forced to wear compulsory hijab, without having a say. Some of these women find the veil on themselves to be unnatural as well as it does not represent their true selves." As an expression of faith, the point of the hijab is that it should be a choice for women to decide.
A compulsory hijab is an insult to both genders. This photo writes, "When the hijab is compulsory, it is not just an insult to women, it is also an insult to men too. Dear men: when the government decrees that the hijab should be mandatory, that automatically means that they see you as unclean, easily provoked and weak. They think that men must be really weak to get excited after seeing just a few strands of loose hair. If you remain silent when women are forced to wear the hijab or when they insult our freedom, then you allow yourselves to be insulted too. Many Iranian men are already supporting us and are fighting shoulder to shoulder with us for women's rights, but we definitely need more of you." Women can't do this alone. It is up to the men to the support women fighting against the practice of compulsory hijab. Hijab is punishing women for men's inability to control themselves, when really, men should just be held accountable for their actions - not women.
While the Iranian men and women involved in the My Stealthy Freedom campaign may seem radical to people in Iran, they are brave and also understand that women deserve to be seen and not hidden. They deserve to be able to dance, sing solo, hold hands with someone they love, and let their hair down, but millions of women in Iran are not free to do these things. Masih Alinejad says, "Women in Iran are breaking the law every day just to be ourselves." In this video, she describes the laws that women have to break just to live. Alinejad says, “I’m a master criminal because the government thinks I have too much hair, too much voice, and I am too much of a woman.” This is exactly the kind of attitude she is inspiring to women in Iran through her My Stealthy Freedom campaign. Removing compulsory hijabs is the first step towards reaching equality and ending the suffering that women have endured in Iran.