01/14/2019, 12.14
IRAN
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Teheran, the vice-president of the Parliament opens to the referendum on the Islamic veil

Ali Motahari calls for a referendum on the hijab. In the event of a referendum he hopes that the country chooses to maintain the norm. However, the protest of women online and on the streets does not stop. Female activists: "Our rights cannot be decided" by men or by a vote.

Tehran (AsiaNews) -A prominent Iranian political leader has opened to the possibility for a referendum on the obligatory veil, a controversial topic that has unleashed protests in the past few months, quashed with arrests by Tehran. However, activists and demonstrators who have promised new street demonstrations to demand that the law be canceled without the need for a popular vote.

In recent days, Ali Motahari, vice-president of Parliament, has called for a national referendum to be held on hijab; he then added that, in his opinion, he hopes "citizens vote to keep the law in force.

The veil became mandatory in Iran following the rise to power of the ayatollahs Islamic Revolution of 1979. At the moment it is not known whether a referendum will become an official proposal and, in this case, when it will be possible hold the vote.

The fight against the veil is not a recent phenomenon, but since the beginning of last year the movement has grown and has gained ever greater vigor and visibility. With online videos and appeals, activists encourage women to remove the hijab and post the protest gesture on social networks.

Yet women have expressed their indignation at Motaharis proposal, because the vote would entrust - in fact –  men a decision on how women should dress. One video shows two women on a motorcycle, without the veil under their helmet. Others chanted slogans and songs including "No to the hijab, I am the leader, you are the leader. We cry out our freedom ". "Our rights - they add - cannot be decided by others through a referendum".

Following the example of the demonstrators in January 2018, which caused dozens of arrests and the condemnation of 32-year-old Nargess Husseini for "removing the headgear in the streets of Tehran", a group of women took off their veils during a walk in a park of the capital.

The video, relaunched by the activists of My Stealthy Freedom, shows the group waving the hijab in the air. Masih Alinejad, founder of the movement, stresses that the representatives of women’s movements in Iran "become more and more courageous" and "civil disobedience grows day by day [...] among religious leaders (conservatives) panic is spreading".

Violating the mandatory headscarf rule can result in a fine of 500,000 rials (about $ 12) and up to two years in prison. In the past, the moderate president Hassan Rouhani, who came to power in 2013, has repeatedly stated that it is not up to police duty to ensure the application of religious norms, including the obligation of the veil. A directive that is not respected and there are tens of thousands of cases of fines or arrests imposed by law enforcement agencies.

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