Most of us know Iran for its atrocious history for women’s rights which has created a patriarchal society and culture that see’s women as second class citizens which is enshrined in their laws.
A country where social laws include men and women dancing in public together being illegal, wearing a hijab in public has been the law since the 1979 revolution.
Also, the use of social media is forbidden even though both the President and Supreme Leader both have twitter accounts.
In the last year, we have seen young men and women showing some defiance to those social laws. Earlier this year 6 young men and women filmed themselves dancing to “Happy” a song by Pharrell Williams and shared it on social media.
Those young men and women were sentenced to a year in jail and 91 lashes before being bailed however the director is still in jail.
Now we have My Stealthy Freedom. Another movement started by Masia Alinejad, a London based Iranian journalist.
In May Masia started a Facebook page where she posted a single picture of herself driving through Iran without her hijab.
The page offers other Iranian women the opportunity to post “stealthy” pictures of themselves without their hijabs too.
Since the start, there have been 726.674 likes and tens of thousands of women that have sent in their pictures of them in public places without their hijabs with a little message about why they took part.
One young woman posted a video of her dancing on the train without her hijab while other passengers looked on.
President Rouhani known as a moderate leader is in support of these young people and is fighting for more fair and moderate social laws and better rights for women.
In October President Rouhani asked the police to be more tolerant toward women that don’t want to wear the hijab.
“#Happiness is our people’s right. We shouldn’t be too hard on behaviors caused by joy.” –President Rouhani
However, the hardline conservative which include most of those in the Iranian Parliament and the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei strongly disagree with Rouhani.
“Islamic rules are stricter in the case of women’s hijab. That is because the delicate nature of women and their characteristics … if we want to prevent our society from being plunged into corruption and turmoil, we should keep women in hijab.” Source: English.khamenei.ir
Since starting the page Masia has even had a fake rape reported in the national media to try and defame her character, saying she had been gang-raped in front of her 17-year-old son in a London subway.
Conservative commentator for state-run Tasnim news has been reported to have said that women who do not wear their Hijabs are asking for it. While disturbing pictures of a mutilated woman is being circulated and used to pressure women into wearing their hijab.
So one asks can these brave women and men change the minds of the leaders in Iran. Will President Rouhani manage to earn the support of parliament and the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei or will the hardline conservatives keep things exactly the way they want in regards to social laws and women’s rights?
Rouhani clearly is a favourite amongst Iranian citizens, winning the election by a landslide in 2013. He has managed to rebuild global political relationships and is outspoken on his support of women’s rights in areas of employment, education and social freedoms.
Can Rouhani with the support of the brave women and men in Iran who are willing to risk their own freedom and personal safety for moderate social laws push through those desired changes?
Or is his position limited in regards to changing social moral laws, left only to Ali Khamenei and his hard-line conservatives who remain resolute that women should wear a hijab, and are willing to go to extremes to ensure women do?