Thousands of Iranian women are protesting their nation’s oppressive culture by tossing aside their hijabs and taking selfies that are turning up in a growing Facebook gallery.
The page, titled “Stealthy Freedoms of Iranian Women,” has garnered nearly 180,000 likes in just two weeks. The women pictured on it are seen joyfully shedding the Muslim garb in various locations around the Islamic republic. The page was created by London-based Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad, who came up with the idea after hearing from women in her homeland who told her how lucky she is to have Facebook photos with her hair blowing in the wind.
“I guess, the idea of “Stealthy Freedoms” is a bit like the English phrase “secret pleasures,” or “guilty pleasures,” which is doing something pleasurable --like having a craving for chocolate - but one that we don't feel comfortable in doing in public,” Alinejad told FoxNews.com.
The page is intended for women to post freedom-inspiring photos of themselves in varying degrees of defiance, from some only showing the backs of their heads to others standing in front of government offices.
Alinejad left Iran in 2009, the same year Iranians flooded the streets of Iran protesting the corruption of their government in the aftermath of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s contested re-election. The revolution failed, but an international audience got a brief glimpse into Iran’s secular and social media conscious community.
In one entry accompanied by a photo, an Iranian woman blasts the strict Islamic culture that calls for women to cover up in order to guard men against temptation.
“It is painful that I shall not be free so that you will not sin,” the woman wrote. “That I have to be covered so that your weak faith does not break!”
Another woman, who took her own pictures – sans hijab - standing in front of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s office wrote, “We will move faster and faster till u understand what we are capable of doing. Whatever you say we MUST NOT do, we will do! Hoping for freedom.”
The photos are posted anonymously and only with the permission of those who submit, Alinejad said. While many of the women’s faces are not shown, some are. That could expose them to punishment, either under the Islamic Republic’s 35-year law that requires women to dress according to Sharia law, or at the hands of the infamous “morality police,” who dish out beatings and fines for religious infractions.
Government officials have not remained silent. Fars News Agency, a semi-official news platform, condemned the page and accused Alinejad of inciting immoral behavior and collaborating with Iran’s enemies.
"I want to start a conversation between Iranians themselves and with the government," Alinejad said. "And for the government allow a free and open debate."
Lisa Daftari is a Fox News contributor specializing in Middle Eastern affairs.