The United States condemns the reported arrests of at least twenty-nine protesters in Iran for exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms by standing up against the compulsory hijab imposed upon women.
U.S. Department of State Spokesperson Heather Nauert wrote in statement that the United States “remains steadfast in our support for the rights to freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and peaceful assembly.”
President Donald Trump has said that the Iranian people are the source of one of the greatest fears of the Iranian government.
That fear has been shown once again by the regime’s reaction to women who protested the compulsory wearing of the hijab.
Images and videos of unveiled Iranian women standing up and waving their hijab are spreading across social media.
Some men and veiled women have also protested the compulsory hijab. They are motivated and inspired by the action of a young Iranian woman who stood on a box in Enghelab (or Revolution) Street in Tehran prior to the massive anti-government protests that started at the end of December. Omid Memarian, a US-based Iranian journalist who was once imprisoned in Iran, wrote on social media that the fight against forced hijab "is not about whether the hijab is good or bad. It's about choice and equality.”
As the U.S. Department of State’s 2016 Human Rights Report noted, Iranian women’s rights are restricted in virtually all areas of society. Not only must they adhere to the compulsory hijab but their testimony is given half the weight of a man’s in a court of law; they may not transmit citizenship to their children or to a noncitizen spouse; they are barred from running for high political office; social and legal restraints limit their educational and professional opportunities; and they are punished disproportionately for certain crimes.
The women of Iran deserve better. They deserve to be accorded their full, fundamental human rights, as the current protests over the compulsory hijab underscore.
In State Department Spokesperson Nauert’s words, “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.”