Iran protests against hijab law: archer Parmida Ghassemi takes a stand during medal presentation
Iranian athlete Parmida Ghassemi has made an extraordinary public display of defiance of the country’s mandatory hijab laws.
The hijab has been compulsory for women in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but the country has been thrown into chaos in recent weeks.
There have been nearly two months of protests since the death of Mahsa Amini, after she was arrested by vice squad for allegedly breaking the country’s strict dress code for women.
Ghassemi has now put on one of the most powerful displays to date, his act leaving officials and spectators alike stunned during the closing ceremony of a Persian Gulf Tirukman League final in Tehran.
A video from the moment shows several men in the crowd doing a double take as she left the podium and removed her medal.
The video shows Ghassemi letting her headscarf fall back as she stands on a podium. Another contestant appears to attempt to hand it over, but Ghassemi makes no effort to hide his willful act.
Audio from the video shared by the Iran Center for Human Rights organization shows people in the audience clapping and clapping as she stood with quiet pride.
“Another Iranian athlete, Parmida Ghassemi, removed her hijab in peaceful protest against the forced hijab law,” the organization wrote of the video on Twitter.
“These brave women face severe persecution in Iran for engaging in freedom of expression.”
Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad posted on Twitter that it was “another humiliation for the Iranian regime”.
One version of the video has been viewed 200,000 times.
French journalist Mariam Pirzadeh posted on Twitter that the “act of courage” was met with “stunned looks from men”.
A Washington-based reporter wrote, “In awe of her. In Tehran, during the archery competition, the Iranian athlete Parmida Ghassemi takes off her hijab on the podium, in full view of all.
“Incredible courage and grace. I hope she stays safe.
Iran earlier this week denounced a skater after she attended a competition in Turkey without wearing an Islamic headscarf.
Niloufar Mardani, a member of Iran’s national speed skating team for more than a decade, received an award during a race in Istanbul on Sunday without a head covering and wearing black clothes with the word “Iran”, reported the media.
“Mardani took part in a skating competition in Turkey without permission,” the sports ministry was quoted as saying by Iranian news agency Fars.
In Turkey, “this athlete was not wearing the outfit approved by the ministry and she has not been part of the national team since last month,” the statement added.
The ministry said Mardani participated in a “personal” capacity in the Istanbul competition, an event the Iranian national team did not attend.
Iranian sportswomen are forced to compete with headscarves, even at events held abroad.
In October, Iranian Elnaz Rekabi took part in a rock climbing competition in Seoul wearing only a bandana on her head, causing a stir.
Upon her return to Iran, she apologized and said that the hijab fell off by accident. But others have suggested his move was deliberate.
— with AFP