Why are Iranian men wearing the hijab?
The new wave of Facebook posts appear to be mocking the thousands of Iranian women who have recently gone hijab-free
Earlier this month, Iranian women flooded Facebook with pictures of themselves with their hair uncovered to spark a debate the freedom to choose whether or not to wear the hijab.
Now a new trend has been spotted in the conservative Islamic Republic. Iranian men are posting pictures of them wearing the hijab to the networking site.
The new wave of posts appear to be a counter-attack, mocking the thousands of women who have been active on the My Stealthy Freedom group, a campaign on the social media site set up by London-based Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad.
Within the first two days of its creation earlier this month, 30,000 women posted photos of themselves.
“This is Iran… The feeling of the wind blowing through every strand of hair, is a girl’s biggest dream,” the caption on the page read.
Since then, rival Facebook groups have been created, including one titled Men's Stealthy Freedoms, which pokes fun at the women with pictures of the veiled men, and another called Real Freedom of Iranian Women, which was created in response to Alinejad's page.
Also, two small pro-hijab rallies were held in Tehran, according to the Telegraph.
“Members write that the hijab is freeing and women should not be given the right to choose whether to wear it. Others posting on the page say they should be compulsory to protect women's modesty,” the newspaper reported.
“In one post, the word rape has been written over the photos of three prominent Iranian journalist who work abroad and appear unveiled in their broadcasts. It was accompanied with a message warning that women who do not wear the hijab are more likely to get raped,” it added.
Meanwhile, Alinejad’s page has become packed with hundreds of unveiled pictures taken in Iran’s streets, parks and beaches. Iran's religious police are often deployed on the streets, cracking down on those who they deem to be wearing the hijab incorrectly or not wearing it at all.
One woman, posting an unveiled picture showing her behind the wheel wrote: "My stealthy freedom while driving in the streets of Tehran … I like to feel the wind blowing on my face."
In comments to the Guardian earlier this month, Alinejad said she has received a wave of messages and pictures since launching the campaign.
"I've hardly slept in the past three days because of the number of pictures and messages I've received," she said, adding that she does her best to verify that the pictures were sent from genuine accounts and asked people for permission before publishing them.
However, she does not reveal their full names.
"I have no intention whatsoever to encourage people to defy the forced hijab or stand up against it," she said. "I just want to give voice to thousands and thousands of Iranian women who think they have no platform to have their say."