Men throughout the world are posting pictures of themselves online wearing women’s scarves on their head. It’s not a fashion statement. It’s a political statement against the regime in Iran. The World’s Jason Margolis reports.
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MARCO WERMAN: Iran also participated in the talks in Bahrain. Teheran is concerned about security just outside the country’s borders. But it’s also focused on troubles at home. Iran’s leaders have struggled to contain anti-government protests since the disputed re-election of the President six months ago. The latest demonstration is a little different though. It involves people posting photos of themselves online. They’re wearing Islamic headscarves but it’s not women in the photos, it’s men. The World’s Jason Margolis has more.
JASON MARGOLIS: At first glance the photos of men in headscarves, many with beards and five o’clock shadows may look a little comical. But there’s nothing comical about them says Negar Mottahdeh who teaches women’s studies and literature at Duke University. She says if you told her only a few days ago that Iranian Men would post photos of themselves in women’s garb she never would have believed it.
NEGAR MOTTAHEDEH: It does feel humiliating to an Iranian man to put on the veil. And so for me and I think for many women it came as a surprise that men would take on the Islamic garb.
MARGOLIS: The photos started popping up on social networking sites like Facebook a few days ago. The pictures followed an Iranian news agency’s decision to publish a photo of a 22-year old anti-government protestor, Majid Tavakoli. He was arrested last week. In the published photo Tavakoli is wearing a Muslim woman’s head to toe covering. The government claims Tavakoli was wearing it to avoid arrest. Tavakoli’s supporters say he was forced into woman’s clothes as a way to discredit him. But Negar Mottahedeh says the copycat photos are foiling that plan.
MOTTAHEDEH: It is almost as if the government’s attempts to humiliate Majid Tavakoli is made light of. As if they are saying, you try to humiliate Majid but I am Majid. We are all Majid. We stand together with him, and we will veil for him.
MARGOLIS: One man who has veiled himself is Hamid Dabashi, Columbia University Professor of Iranian Studies. Dabashi posted a picture of himself wearing a headscarf on his Facebook page. Dabashi says the protest isn’t just about the case of Tavakoli. It’s also about the pressure that Muslim women face in Iran and other countries.
HAMID DABASHI: It is nothing particularly good or bad about a scarf. What is bad is forcing women to wear it, or if they want to wear it, not to wear it. That’s the thing. That is the violence that is perpetrated upon the will of a human being, their civil liberties.
MARGOLIS: The headscarf protest is just the latest demonstration against the Iranian regime. But there was a key difference. In previous months Iranian protestors had been posting photos on social media sites with their faces blurred out or covered. But in the recently posted photos of men wearing headscarves, many of the men look straight at the camera, their faces revealed. For The World, I’m Jason Margolis.
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