Anti-veil mobilization in Iran: who is Masih Alinejad who challenges Western women politicians, in particular Ségolène Royal?

In front of his phone, his long frizzy hair held back by a yellow flower, Masih Alinejad lists several names: Ann Linde, Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton, British, former head of European diplomacy, Fédérica Mogherini, Italian, rector of the College of Europe and, for France, a former minister of François Hollande.I appeal to you Ségolène Royal… I appeal to all women politicians in Western countries. It’s your turn ! Make videos! And say you were wrong…I remember when I asked you not to wear the hijab, you said, ‘We’re here to fix bigger issues.’ Now for this ‘little’ problem, this ‘little’ piece of fabric, women are being killed! Make a video. It’s up to you!”

The Iranian feminist opponent posted the video Thursday, September 22 at 10 p.m. Friday afternoon, she still had no return. Why is she talking to Ségolène Royal? Because, in 2016, she had alerted the Minister of the Environment during an official trip to Iran, asking her to raise this issue of the compulsory hijab… and not to wear it! Not easy, of course. But Michele Obama did show up bareheaded at the funeral of King Abdallah in Saudi Arabia… Masih Alinejad had not been heard.

At 46, the activist journalist now lives in exile in New York. Born in Babol, in the north of Iran in September 1976, she was 2 years old when Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran. She will tell years later to the English newspaper The Guardian of her surprise to discover, in the photos before, her mother in a skirt with a light scarf (without a chador) and her shaved father. The irony is that his parents had themselves been supporters of this revolution, imagining that they would gain in freedom.

Trouble begins at 18: Masih is arrested with her fiancé, also an activist. She is pregnant, thrown in prison, in solitary confinement, without a lawyer, then sentenced to 5 years in prison and 74 lashes. Her sentence is suspended, in the hope that she calms down. Four years later, her husband decides to divorce, she has no say. He is the one who gets custody of their son. Her father, banished from the mosque because of his daughter’s divorce, implores her to come back home, the time to find her another man. She refuses.

She still managed to work, especially as a journalist, a reporter for Parliament. For a story of red shoes, she was suspended, lost her pass and ended up going into exile in England, in Oxford, where she studied and continued her interviews with Iranian opposition leaders.

This question of the hijab has been with her for a very long time, especially on this day in 2014 when her life really changed. One innocuous and joyful spring day, hair blowing in the wind, in the middle of cherry blossoms, her companion takes photos and posts them on Facebook. We see her running, arms wide open… Huge success: 100,000 likes in a few days. In Iran, thousands of women are photographed without hijab. Masih Alinejad launches a campaign “My Stealthy Freedom”“Ma Liberté Furtive” in French, to amplify this movement.

His dream ? Return to Iran where, because of her, several members of her family were arrested two years ago. Last year, she was the target of a plot to lure her abroad to arrest her along with other Iranian opponents. Today, she works for Voice of America, the US government television network. This did not prevent him, a few days ago, from howling his anger against Joe Biden for having let Iranian President Raïsi speak at the UN a few days after the death of Mahsa Amini.

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