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Why men in Iran are taking selfies in hijabs

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Iranian men have been taking pictures of themselves wearing hijabs and posting them on social media, in solidarity with women and girls.

The country is known for its stringent policing of women’s clothing, having enforced the wearing of headscarves in public since the Iranian Revolution of 1979, before which fashion in Iran was not dissimilar to that in the West.

Known as the ‘morality police’, enforcers walk the streets and punish women exposing their hair with fines or even imprisonment, and posters around the country propagandise that women not covering their hair are dishonourable – even at risk of inviting sexual assault.

The rules have resulted in a recent backlash amongst women who have been publicly removing their headscarves with some even shaving their heads and dressing like men so that they may walk out without covering themselves.

Now some men are taking a stand alongside women, themselves donning the hijab and taking selfies alongside female relatives beside them – who have their hair uncovered.

The movement was sparked by New York-based journalist Masih Alinejad, whose project My Stealthy Freedom encourages Iranian women to post pictures of themselves without the hijab. She has since urged men to join in the fight, and support women, posting their images with the hashtag #MenInHijab.

Alinejad has received over 30 images of men in hijab, with others posting directly onto Instagram.

Speaking to The Independent, Alinejad says:

“Most of these men are living inside Iran and they have witnessed how their female relatives have been suffering at the hands of the morality police and humiliation of enforced hijab.

“For years, from childhood to womanhood, we’ve been forced to wear the compulsory headscarf and for years we have had to endure the loss of our dignity.”

Alinejad told the paper that in Iran, “a woman’s existence and identity is justified by a man’s integrity, and in many cases the teachings of a religious authority or government officials influence a man’s misguided sense of ownership over women.”

The activist has said that inviting men to support women’s rights is the best way to highlight this discrepancy. 

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