Iranian who removed headscarf pardoned from year in prison

Lawyer of Vida Movahed says court sentenced her in March after finding her guilty of encouraging public ‘corruption’.

Police Enforce Women?s Islamic Dress Code
The headscarf has been in mandatory in Iran since the Iranian revolution in 1979 [File: Majid Saeedi/Getty]

The lawyer for an Iranian woman who removed her headscarf in a public protest says she has been sentenced to one year in prison but pardoned by the supreme leader.

Payam Derafshan told The Associated Press news agency that a court sentenced Vida Movahed in March after finding her guilty of encouraging public “corruption”.

Movahed was arrested in November 2018.

Derafshan, who revealed the verdict to local media on Sunday, says Movahed is on a pardon list but the release procedures are still under way. There was no official comment.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei occasionally issues pardons. Movahed, 32, was dubbed the “Girl of Enghelab Street” and briefly arrested in 2017 after she took off her headscarf and held it in the air. 


Authorities detained 29 women on similar charges the following year.

Mandatory headscarf

The headscarf, or hijab, has been mandatory in Iran since 1979, after the Iranian revolution and the installation of Ayatollah Khomeini as Supreme Leader.

Over the years, hundreds of thousands of Iranian women have protested against the law.

During a wave of protests in the country in 2018, women renewed their opposition to the law, taking off their hijabs in public and waving them on wooden sticks like flags.

Holly Dagres, an Iranian-American analyst, told Al Jazeera last year that Iranian authorities are “very much aware” that more than half of the population is against wearing the hijab.


“It’s evident by the fact that the morality police are on constant patrol of the streets of major cities like Tehran,” Dagres said.

“Authorities know that if they don’t crack down, Iranian women will continue to test the boundaries of what they can and cannot wear.” 

The 2018 rallies against the headscarf were inspired by a lone female demonstrator who stood on a busy pavement in central Tehran waving her white headscarf on a wooden stick.

The image of the woman spread on social media.

Her case attracted more attention when she was reportedly detained by police in late January. She was later released on bail, according to the Iran Human Rights group.

Under Iran’s law, a woman who does not wear a hijab in public could face jail time or fines.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies