2017–19 Iranian protests against compulsory hjab

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Girls of Enghelab Street
Part of 2017–18 Iranian protests
Girl of Enghelab Street.jpg
An Iranian woman showing support for the Girls of Enghelab Street in Hauptplatz in Linz
DateSince 27 December 2017 (2017-12-27)
GoalsRemoval of Compulsory Hijab law
Parties to the civil conflict
ArrestedAt least 40[1]

Girls of Enghelab Street (Persian: دختران خیابان انقلاب) is a series of protests against compulsory hijab in Iran. The protests were inspired by Vida Movahed (Persian: ویدا موحد‎), an Iranian woman known as the Girl of Enghelab Street (Persian: دختر خیابان انقلاب‎), who stood in the crowd on a utility box in the Enghelab Street (Revolution Street) of Tehran on 27 December 2017[2], tied her hijab, a white headscarf, to a stick, and waved it to the crowd as a flag.[3][4][5][6] She was arrested on that day[5][6] and was released temporary on bail[7][8] a month later, on 28 January 2018.[9][10] Some people believe that Movahed's action was based on Masih Alinejad's call for White Wednesdays, a protest movement that the presenter at VOA Persian Television started in early 2017.[11][12][13] Other women later re-enacted her protest and posted photos of their actions on social media. These women are described as the "Girls of Enghelab Street"[12] and "The Girls Of Revolution Street"[14] in English sources. Some of the protesters claim that they didn't follow Masih Alinejad's call.[15][16][16][17][18]

Islamic Republic's Penal Code[edit]

In the Islamic law of Iran imposed shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution, article 638 of 5th book of Islamic Penal Code (called Sanctions and deterrent penalties) women who do not wear a hijab may be imprisoned from ten days to two months, and/or required to pay fines from 50,000 up to 500,000 rials.[19][20] Fines are recalculated in the courts as the value of Iranian rials drops every year since 1979.

Article 639 of the same book says, two type of people shall be sentenced to one year to 10 years imprisonment, first a person who establishes or directs a place of immorality or prostitution, second a person who facilitates or encourages people to commit immorality or prostitution.[21][22]

These are some of the laws under which some protesters were charged.[21][23]


Before the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979 (during the reign of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran), the hijab was not compulsory,[24] though some Iranian women during this period wore headscarfs or chador.[25]

After the 1979 Islamic revolution, the hijab gradually became compulsory.[26] In 1979, Ruhollah Khomeini announced that women should observe Islamic dress code;[26][27] His statement sparked demonstrations, which were met by government assurances that the statement was only a recommendation.[26][27] Hijab was subsequently made mandatory in government and public offices in 1980, and in 1983 it became mandatory for all women.[26]

In 2018, a government run survey dating back to 2014, was released by President Hassan Rouhani, showing that 49.8% of Iranians were against compulsory or mandatory hijab.[28][29] The report was released by the Center for Strategic Studies, the research arm of the Iranian President's office, and was titled "Report of the first hijab special meeting" on July 2014 in a PDF format.[30]

On 2 February 2018, a poll conducted by the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM) showed that a few Iranians agreed with "changing Iran's political system or relaxing strict Islamic law".[31]

Iran is the only country in the world that requires non-Muslim women to wear a headscarf.[32] For example, in January 2018, a Chinese female musician was forcibly veiled in the middle of her concert performance.[33]


December 2017[edit]

27 December[edit]

On 27 December 2017,[2] pictures and videos of Movahed waving her scarf went viral through the hashtag "Where_is_she?" (#دختر_خیابان_انقلاب_کجاست, "Where is the girl of Enghelab Street" in Persian) on social media. While at first she was unknown, days later, Nasrin Sotoudeh (Persian: نسرین ستوده), the human rights activist and lawyer who has also been arrested, found out that the woman is 31 years old and was arrested on the spot with her 19-month-old baby.[3][4][5]

January 2018[edit]

28 January[edit]

On 28 January 2018, according to Nasrin Sotoudeh, the lawyer investigating the case, Vida Movahed was released;[9][10] temporary on bail.[7][8]

29 January[edit]

On 29 January 2018, a woman was arrested in Tehran after reenacting Movahed's protest by standing on the same utility box in Enqelab Street, taking off her white Hijab, and holding it up on a stick. Photos has been posted on social media show that at least three other women reenacted Movahed's protest in Tehran on 29 January, including one near Ferdowsi Square.[12]

30 January[edit]

According to Nasrin Sotoudeh on 30 January 2018, the second woman who was arrested on 29 January 2018 was Narges Hosseini (Persian: نرگس حسینی‎); her age is 32.[34]

On 30 January 2018, several more women, but also men, protested against the compulsory hijab law by reenacting Movahed's protest.[13][11] This took place in Tehran, as well as other cities as well including Esfahan and Shiraz.[21][35]

February 2018[edit]

1 February[edit]

On 1 February 2018 the Iranian Police department announced they had arrested 29 women for taking off their hijab.[36][37][38][35]

2 February[edit]

According to Nasrin Sotoudeh, the Iranian lawyer, Narges Hosseini known as the second girl of Enghelab street, who is 32 years old was unable to pay the $135,000 USD bail set by the judge presiding over her case, facing a possible 10 years in prison and up to 74 lashes on charges including openly committing a sinful act.[21][23]

15 February[edit]

New photos and video shared on social media shows another woman re-enacting Movahed's protest on the same street, Enghelab Street (Revolution Street) on 15 February 2018 was identified as Azam Jangravi (Persian: اعظم جنگروی‎), videos shows that the police took her down aggressively. According to her latest Instagram picture, she said that she a part of Iranian women Reformists and Executives of Construction Party and has taken no orders from neither someone from inside nor outside the country, she said she has done that to protest against compulsory hijab.[15][39][40]

17 February[edit]

Narges Hosseini and Azam Jangravi were released from the custody temporary on bail.[39]

21 February[edit]

Another female protester named Shaparak Shajarizadeh (Persian: شاپرک شجری زاده‎) was arrested protesting with a white scarf on Wednesday, 21 February 2018 in Gheytarieh street; eyewitnesses said that the police attacked her from behind and took her in custody.[41][39][42]

The original utility box that Vida Movahed and other protesters stood on top of, located in the Enghelab–Vesal Junction in Tehran. It has since been altered by the government to prevent protesters from standing on its top.

Photos shared on social media shows that the government was placing an inverted v-shaped iron structure on the utility boxes so as to inhibit anyone standing on top of the boxes.[43] She was sentenced to two years in prison in addition to an 18-year suspended prison term.[44] In addition, she stated that she left Iran.[45]

22 February[edit]

Another woman named Maryam Shariatmadari (Persian: مریم شریعتمداری‎) was protesting compulsory hijab in the afternoon on a utility box; the police asked her to come down and the woman refused and questioned the police what's her crime, "disturbing the peace" the police replied. Then, as she was violently ejected by the police, she was injured and her leg was broken.[41][46]

Shaparak Shajarizadeh was beaten up in custody.[41] She was released later temporary on bail.[41]

24 February[edit]

Eyewitnesses said that another women named Hamraz Sadeghi (Persian: همراز صادقی‎) was protesting compulsory hijab on Saturday, 24 February 2018 when suddenly she was attacked by an unknown security force, her arm was broken and was arrested.[47]

July 2018[edit]

8 July[edit]

On 8 July 2018, Iranian teenager Maedeh Hojabri was arrested after she posted videos of herself dancing to Western and Iranian music on her Instagram account without her headscarf.[48] She was among several popular Instagram users, with more than 600,000 followers.[48] Her videos were shared by hundreds of people.[48] Several Iranian women posted videos of themselves dancing to protest her arrest.[49]

October 2018[edit]

27 October[edit]

On 27 October 2018, students in Islamic Azad University, Central Tehran Branch protested after a morality police van entered the campus and attempted to arrest several women for improper hijab. Videos showed a student standing in front of the van, attempting to block its exit, which lead to the driver of the van attempting to run her over.[50]

29 October[edit]

On 29 October 2018, an Iranian woman stood on the dome of Enghelab square in Tehran, and removed her headscarf in protest to the compulsory hijab. She was arrested minutes later by the police.[51] On 14 April 2019, it was revealed that she was Vida Movahed, the original Girl of Enghelab Street, that was protesting for the second time.[52]

February 2019[edit]

15 February[edit]

On 15 February 2019, the morality police attempted to arrest two girls for improper hijab in the Narmak area of Tehran and were met with resistance from bystanders. A group of people gathered around the van, breaking the windows, tearing the door off, and freeing the two girls inside. A video from the incident shows police firing shots into the air to disperse the crowd. Tehran police later confirmed the incident.[53][54]

March 2019[edit]

7 March[edit]

On 7 March 2019, two women were arrested in Kangavar after they protested the compulsory hijab by walking the streets of the city without their hijab on.[55]

8 March[edit]

On International Women's Day (8 March), groups of women in Tehran appeared unveiled and protested the oppression of women. A video showed two unveiled women holding a red sign, which read "International Women's Day is a promise of a just world for all of humanity", on a Valiasr Street. Another video showed a group of unveiled women on a Tehran Metro car handing out flowers to passengers.[56]

11 March[edit]

On 11 March 2019, a man stood on a box on Enghelab street and waved a white scarf on a stick. He was arrested on the scene by the security forces.

May 2019[edit]

13 May[edit]

On 13 May 2019, students at the University of Tehran gathered to protest the increasing pressures to obey the mandatory headscarf rule.[57] Plainclothes vigilantes attacked students who were protesting. Students also carried signs demanding freedom and free elections.[58]



  • Iranian chief prosecutor – Mohammad Jafar Montazeri – on 31 January 2018, reacted to the protests by calling them "trivial" and "childish" moves that were incited by foreigners.[59]
  • The deputy speaker of parliament – Ali Motahari, on 31 January 2018 said that there is no compulsory hijab in Iran, since women show up wearing whatever they like.[60][61][62][63]
  • A member of the parliament – Soheila Jolodarzadeh Iranian politician on 31 January 2018 said that the protests is the result of their unnecessary restriction for women.[38]
  • Judiciary – Iraninan judiciary spokesman, Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Eje'i on 4 February 2018 said, some of the arrested women were on "synthetic drugs"; he also declared that if it is proven their protests were organized, their crime will be much heavier.[21]
  • President Hassan Rouhani on 11 February 2018, 39th anniversary of Islamic Revolution said under the article 59 of the constitution any conflicts in Iranian society could be resolved with a constitutional referendum.[64]
  • Iranian senior actress and director – Marzieh Boroumand on 14 February 2018 said that she is against compulsory hijab but she is not supporting Masih Alinejad's lead on the movement, she said that Alinejad is trying to seize every movement inside the country to her own and gives excuses to the government that the protesters are getting orders from her and making trouble for young people.[16][17][18]
  • City Council of Tehran – Nahid Khodakarami, an Iranian midwife and a member of City Council of Tehran on 15 February 2018 said that choosing their own clothes is the least right that women can have, "Which one is has more sin, hairs of Azam Jangravi or that man's hand?" said Ms. Khodakarami is reaction to the video of arresting Azam Jangravi.[65][66][67]
  • An academic – "Who and based on what article of the law allowed to the police to eject that women like that?", said Abdollah Ramezanzadeh on 22 February 2018.[68]
Seyyed Mehdi Tabatabaei, Iranian Shia cleric said that forcing hijab on people is against Islam and has a reverse result.[69]
  • An Iranian Shia cleric – Seyyed Mehdi Tabatabaei on 22 February 2018 in reaction to the arrests said that for sure hijab is requirement in Islam, no doubt, but does that mean shouble force it on people?.[69]
  • Iranian police – on 23 February 2018 has officially warned if someone take their hijabs off, they will be imprisoned up to 10 years according to the article 639 of the law. Police said that it is their job to make sure that someone is not breaking the law.[70]
  • An Iranian journalist – The Ghanoon (The Law) Newspaper has published an article on 24 February 2018 on the main page written by Mehrshad Imani, let's not call the hijabless people, prostitutes based on article 639 of the law.[71]


  • Amnesty International on 24 January 2018 called on the Iranian government to free the arrested woman unconditionally.[72] On 2 February 2018 Amnesty International once again calls on the government to release six human right defenders including one of the protesters Shima Babaei who were arrested on 1 February 2018 .[73][74][75]
  • Heather Nauert, spokeswoman of the United States Department of State issued a statement on 2 February 2018 "[condemning] the reported arrests of at least 29 individuals for exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms by standing up against the compulsory hijab".[76][77][78][79][80][81]
  • Women from Around the World – On 6 February 2018, campaign on social media with the hashtag #NoHijabDay raises, where other women from around the world burn their hijabs in solidarity with Iranian women who are forced to wear hijab.[82][83]
  • The director of the Middle East Program at Wilson Center – Haleh Esfandiari an Iranian-born American based in Washington, on 17 February 2018 in an interview with Axios said her opinion is that these protests are causing a stir but they are not a movement yet.[84]
  • Human Rights Watch – Sarah Leah Whitson the Middle East director of HRW on 24 February 2018 asked the Iranian government to drop the charges against the protesters.[39][41]
  • 45 Members of the European Parliament on 28 February 2018 call on EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini to support the Iranian Women’s Anti-Compulsory-Hijab Protests.[85][86]

See also[edit]


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