Iran Lawyer Raises Concern Over Missing Hijab Protester

A renowned Iranian lawyer raised concern on Monday over the fate of a woman she said was arrested for posing without a headscarf in Tehran in an image that went viral around the world, Times of Israel reports. The woman has not been seen in public since she stood on a pillar box on one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares without a headscarf or long coat required under Islamic law.

The images taken from video footage showed her waving a white scarf — an apparent reference to so-called “White Wednesday” protests against mandatory clothing rules for women. The protest is thought to have taken place December 27, a day before economic protests broke out across the country, which helped the images go viral even though they were apparently unconnected.

Thousands of social media users have shared messages, dubbing her the “Girl of Enghelab Street” after the area in central Tehran where she staged the protest and using the hashtag “Where_is_she?”

Nasrin Sotoudeh, a famous human rights lawyer who has been arrested and barred from working on several occasions over the years, said she went to Enghelab Street on Sunday to investigate. Sotoudeh said could not find out the woman’s name, but was told she was 31 years old and had a 19-month-old baby.

What I am certain about is that this lady has been arrested. The witnesses on the scene who saw her being taken away and even accompanied her to the police station gave me this information. I have no contact with her family,” she told AFP.

Sotoudeh said the woman’s protest appeared to show someone “at the end of their tether because of all the controls placed on her body over the 31 years of her life.”

“Women feel they have no control over their bodies. It is a prelude to infringing on all of their rights,” she said.

The incident came on the same day that Tehran’s police chief indicated security forces were taking a softer line on Islamic rules.

“According to a decision of the commander of the police force, those who do not observe Islamic codes will no longer be taken to detention centers nor judicial files opened on them,” Brigadier General Hossein Rahimi said in a speech in the Iranian capital, according to local media.

Under Iran’s Islamic legal code, women are required to wear a headscarf and long clothes that cover the arms and legs. Breaking the rules can bring fines of up to 500,000 rials ($12) and up to two months in prison. Sotoudeh accused the police of frequently going beyond the law.

“Before even being tried by legal authorities, [women] are taken to a place called ‘Gasht-e Ershad’ [Guidance Patrol], where they can be harshly beaten up. Whether a case is opened for them or not is not important. The illegal punishment they have had to bear has always been much more than what is foreseen in the law,” she said.

Meanwhile, at least seven Kurdish women have been arrested in the first two weeks of January in the cities of Orumiyeh, Kermanshah, and Ilam in western Iran. From the cities of Orumiyeh, and Ilam Western Iran during the past first fortnight of January, at least seven Kurdish women have been arrested and are under interrogations.

Sara Jamshidi, Laleh Aghaii and Nazdar Amir Mohammadi from Ilam; Shahla Vahdatpour and Touran Mehraban from Orumiyeh; Nastaran Akasheh and Ashraf Akbarpour from Kermanshah needs your urgent support to stay alive and release from torture chamber of the medieval religious dictatorship. Despite past three weeks since their arrest, only Touran Mehraban has been released on bail and the six others remain in detention.

According to other reliable information from Iran, the arrest of another seven women in the city of Saqqez, in Kurdistan has been reported. Farhan was arrested along with several of her friends on January 2, 2018, in Tehran’s Enghelab Square and transferred to the Intelligence Ministry’s solitary confinement and placed under interrogation.

In another development in Tehran, the family of Sepideh Farhan (Farahabadi) have not been able to secure her release despite persistent follow up. They have been told that their daughter will not be released for the time being since her interrogations have not been completed which means she has to endure horrific torture yet.