Reuters, April 2, 2019
A prominent Iranian women’s rights activist has sparked heated debate online after she condemned Western women who wear the hijab when they visit Iran and slammed them for supporting a “discriminatory law.”
Masih Alinejad, who is the founder of the White Wednesdays movement, which encourages Iranian women to remove their headscarves in protest, said that calling the hijab part of Iranian “culture” and wearing it out of “respect” was really an “insult” which sends the wrong message to women activists fighting against the compulsory head-covering law.
She said that Western feminists were leaving Iranian women “on their own” in the fight and specifically called out female politicians from other countries who dutifully wore the hijab during their official visits to Iran.
“There were three female politicians from the Netherlands — they went to Iran the same day when one of the women of the White Wednesdays movement put her headscarf on a stick and waved it in public, she got arrested,” Alinejad said.
“The same day there were three female politicians from the Netherlands in Iran obeying compulsory hijab law without challenging it.”
The comments have invited both praise and criticism online, with many supporting Alinejad and calling Western women out for hypocrisy, while others have said her comments were insulting to women who wear the hijab by choice.
One Twitter user accused Western women of treating the hijab like “cultural haute couture.”
Another female activist said it was “painful” to hear people say that the hijab was part of Iranian culture and urged people to look at photographs from Iran before the 1979 revolution when women were not forced to wear a head covering.