Prominent women show solidarity – DW – 11/23/2022

Iranian actresses Hengameh Ghaziani and Katayoun Riahi have both been arrested after being summoned by prosecutors to investigate their “provocative” social media posts and media activities, where they did not wear headscarves.

Ghaziani and Riahi are not alone in this. More and more cultural figures are siding with protesters calling for regime change in Iran.

Protests led by women in Iran to denounce the traditional regime have been going on for a good two months now. They started after the death of 22-year-old Iranian-Kurdish Jina Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by the orientation patrol, also known as the “morality police”, in Tehran and died shortly later in the hospital under mysterious circumstances.

The Iranian uprising seen through the eyes of Iranian women

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The scarf as an ideological symbol

An important part of the protest movement is the removal of the headscarf. “The headscarf in Iran is a symbol of the compulsory hijab,” women’s rights activist Assieh Amini told DW. “The Islamic Republic of Iran has always used this symbol as an ideological flag to say that the Muslim society of Iran is like that.” This is why the headscarf is hated by many Iranian women today.

While all segments of society are involved in the protests, they are seen as being led by women because “they were the first group to lose their basic rights after the 1979 revolution,” Amini said.

Close-up of Iranian women's rights activist Assieh Amini.
Assieh Amini, Iranian women’s rights activistImage: Assieh Amini

Many people in Iran do not want to obey the hijab requirement or have any other form of religious government, Amini said. Removing or burning the headscarf as a “symbol” means opposing the religious government. It also means that the [current] Iranian people’s revolution is a secular revolution.”

Iranian authorities describe them as “trouble” fomented by Iran’s Western enemies.

Actors use their popularity

More and more celebrities are showing solidarity with the protest movement. Actresses Hengameh Ghaziani and Katayoun Riahi are not the first and probably not the last.

According to activist Amini, “For many years, the Islamic Republic of Iran has tried to make Iranian celebrities act in accordance with Islamic law and in fact obey orders dictated by the government. Now they stand alongside the people, and they have a great influence on public opinion.”

Iranian actress Taraneh Alidoosti in a half-close-up, with floral wallpaper in the background.
Actress Taraneh Alidoosti also posted a picture of herself without the obligatory headscarf on social mediaImage: Taraneh Alidoosti

Hengameh Ghaziani, Ketayoun Riahi and Taraneh Alidoosti are actresses who have millions of fans, Amini pointed out. When they take off the hijab, it’s seen by millions of their followers – “and then they can support or emulate that.”

To take a position

Before her arrest, Hengameh Ghaziani, 52, had already indicated that she – like a number of other eminent personalities – had been summoned by the courts. Shortly after, she posted a video on Instagram in which she takes off her hijab.

“Maybe this will be my last post,” she wrote on the social media platform on Saturday. “From this moment, whatever happens to me, know that I am, as I have always been, with the Iranian people until my last breath.”

The video, which is no longer online, was recorded in a shopping street. It shows Ghaziani standing silently in front of the camera without a headscarf. Then she turns around and ties her hair in a ponytail.

His account, which had 2.2 million followers, was also deleted from Instagram.

Almost everyone is at risk of being arrested

Amini points out that many different people are currently being arrested in Iran, not just political and women’s rights activists. They include “ordinary people who demonstrated in the streets, journalists, artists, or even people who just recited a poem or sang. The intensity of repression and arrests and even kidnappings of people in the street is very high. Many of those arrested are teenagers. !”

Jafar Panahi wears glasses and smiles at the camera.
Director Jafar Panahi was also arrested earlier this yearPicture: JP Production

And even before the start of the protest movement triggered by the death of Jina Mahsa Amini, Iranian filmmakers, for example, were under pressure.

Award-winning directors Mohammad Rasoulof and Jafar Panahi have been in detention since July this year. They and others “were important pioneers” of current protest movements, Amini noted.

This article was originally written in German.

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