Iranian activist Masih Alinejad believes women must always have a choice on what they wear.
Masih Alinejad, the Iranian woman infamous in her country for her campaign against the mandatory headscarf laws was, in her own words, horrified and angry when she saw her own sister speaking against her on state TV. Mina, her 53-year-old elder sibling, said Masih is not her sister anymore as she (Mina) cannot accept anyone who speaks against the Supreme Leader.
Alinejad became well known and came in the radar of the Khamenei regime after she founded the Iranian White Wednesdays movement. Using the hashtag #WhiteWednesdays, she promoted the mass action. She is also active on Facebook, through her "My Stealthy Freedom" Facebook page. The page campaigns for women in Iran to have a choice on whether they should keep their hair covered under a headscarf. Alinejad, who presently resides in New York, believes women must always have a choice on what they wear. This freedom to choose was denied to Iranian women from 1983 when the hijab was stated as compulsory by the Ayatollahs.
Alinejad has found mass support online for her views, with many jumping to her defense. Many of them have even begun to use a certain Farsi hashtag. One hashtag was directed against the program name itself: #VoiceAndFamily where social media users lashed out against state television program's calculated attack against the activist. Her supporters spoke in unison against the government which took the reprehensible step to force her family to denounce her. They reasoned that if the Iranian regime wants to promote the headscarf, they should advertise it and not use state machinery against the activist.
The Iranian Government is jittery as Alinejad's campaign has gained traction during the last few months. The effort, which began in 2014, was always popular with Iranians and Tehran observers. Her Instagram and Twitter feeds are well-received, and most posts go viral. The attention also has the negative effect of putting her into the bad books of the Iranian Government. It did not help that her latest campaign hashtag #MyCameraIsMyWeapon captures how ordinary Iranians use their smartphone lenses to demand better rights and document the various abuses which take place in Iran under the regime. According to the activist, the authorities harassed her family since they cannot get to her. Tehran, she said, cannot deal with empowered women as it could destroy the Islamic Republic.