(CNSNews.com) – Criticizing the “hypocrisy” of feminists, an Iranian women’s rights activist says Western media outlets will report on a Barbie doll wearing a headscarf, but avoid devoting coverage to real-life women forced to wear one, for fear of being accused of “Islamophobia.”
Masih Alinejad told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Iranian women have lived in fear since Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, but now the government is starting to fear them.
Alinejad several years ago began an online campaign against the compulsory wearing of Islamic headscarves (hijab), a campaign that now appears to be taking on its own momentum on the streets of Iran.
At least 29 people have reportedly been arrested in Tehran for protesting the forced wearing of the hijab. In recent protests reported on social media, women have removed their headscarves, attached them to sticks, and waved them on public streets. Some men have joined them.
Alinejad, currently based in New York, had a message for feminists in the West.
“What breaks my heart is just the hypocrisy of all those feminists outside Iran,” she told the CBC.
“A Barbie girl wearing hijab can make news for CNN, for – you know, for all media,” she said. “But millions of girls, from the age of seven, who will be kicked out from a school because of not wearing hijab, they cannot be news.”
Alinejad said she was not opposed to the voluntary wearing of hijab – her mother and sister do – “but I’m against hypocrisy. When it comes to condemning compulsory hijab, all these feminists they keep silent, because they worry about Islamophobia.”
Alinejad said she was not against Islam, “but all the Islamic laws in Iran are against women. And these women now are brave enough to [say] that we are not scared of anything.”
“For four decades, we women had the fear inside, in our hearts, but now this is the government of Iran has the fear, and they are scared of these brave women inside Iran.”
She said the Iranian government has called the protesting women “prostitutes” and that she has been called an agent of the CIA and MI6 intelligence agencies.
‘People should be free to choose the clothes they wear’
Alinejad in 2014 began an online campaign called “My Stealthy Freedom” where women from Iran post photos of themselves without the hijab.
In mid-2017 Iranian women began donning white clothing and headscarves and removing their hijabs on Wednesdays, posting photos and videos in a social media campaign using the hashtag #whitewednesdays.
On a Wednesday in late December, a 31-year-old mother, Vida Movahed, removed her headscarf on a major street in Tehran and waved it, becoming the first woman to be arrested for the act. She was released in late January.
Reacting to news of the 29 new arrests, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Sunday the U.S. supports Iranians protesting against the forced wearing of the hijab.
“The United States remains steadfast in our support for the rights to freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and peaceful assembly,” she said. “People should be free to choose the clothes they wear, and practice their faith as they desire. Depriving individuals of this choice undermines their autonomy and dignity.”
The recent protests against compulsory Islamic garb come at a time of broader unrest in Iran. One day after Movahed’s arrest, protests broke out in the city of Mashhad, initially triggered by high food prices.
The protests spread across Iran in the ensuing days, and at least 23 Iranians were killed and almost 4,000 were detained when the regime cracked down.
Fresh protests were reported in recent days from numerous locations in Iran, including Tehran, Kermanshah, Rasht, Sanandaj and Isfahan. According to reports by sources of the exiled Iranian opposition group National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), slogans featuring at these protests include “death to Khamenei” and “death to the dictator.”
President Trump earlier spoke out in support of the Iranian demonstrators, and in his State of the Union address last week did so again:
“When the people of Iran rose up against the crimes of their corrupt dictatorship, I did not stay silent,” he said. “America stands with the people of Iran in their courageous struggle for freedom.”
The regime, which has blamed outside elements for fomenting protests including those against the forced wearing of hijab, is preparing to mark the 39th anniversary of the Islamic revolution in the coming days.
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander Major-General Ali Jafari on Sunday predicted massive turnouts at the anniversary rallies, saying that would be a fitting response to Iran’s internal and external enemies.