Why are some women taking hijab-free photos in Iran?

The World
Iran hijab1

One user sent this picture to the Facebook page "Stealthy Freedoms of Iranian Women" set up by Alinejad. It comes with this caption: "After a few years of being away from my nation, I stepped on its vast plains again; not stealthily though. Hoping for the day when all my nation’s women can taste freedom with their whole bodies and souls."

Courtesy of Masih Alinejad

"My problem is not having to wear the headscarf. My problem is not having a choice."

This is a caption that accompanies a picture on the Facebook page called "Stealthy Freedoms of Iranian Women."

Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad came up with the idea for the page after she posted a photo of herself from a few years ago where she is driving in Iran without hijab.

"Other women from inside Iran began sending me photos of themselves that they took secretly in public," Alinejad says. "Secretly, because they are not covering their hair."

Iranian women are required by law to cover their hair and body when they are in public.

The Facebook page has received more than 138,000 Likes so far. Users, including Iranians and non-Iranians, have commented on the posts.

Supportive of the action say it brings attention to a cause that some Iranian women have fought for, for many years.

Critics on the other hand, have called it "armchair activism," that doesn't result in any substantial change.

They also argue that the page reflects views of middle class Iranians who have access to the Internet and social media (which is banned in Iran but can be accessed by special software).

Alinejad says she understands that her page isn't reflective of all views about the hijab in Iran, but she says it has started a conversation.

"The conservative women in Iran can express their opinion on state media," she says, "but these women don't have that platform."

Alinejad insists that she is not asking Iranian women to take off their headscarves in public.

Rather, she sees herself as someone who is collecting and posting these photos.

"If you turn on the TV, you only see women in black, but that's just one side of Iran," Alinejad says. "Iran is full of color."