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Iran ‘hijab protester’ released as fears mount for second woman arrested

The woman arrested in Iran after a video of her waving her hijab on the streets of Tehran went viral has been released after more than a month in detention, according to activists who investigated her case. The woman, whose name has still not been confirmed but is believed to be Vida Movahed, a 31-year-old mother of a young child, was arrested December 27 by Iranian authorities after a video of her waving a white hijab on the streets of Tehran went viral ahead of larger protests in the country days following. The video was shared by activists trying to raise awareness about the compulsory veiling of women in Iran using the slogan “White Wednesdays.” Her image quickly became the face of the widespread protests in Iran that began the following day. After international outcry over the woman’s mysterious disappearance and assumed arrest, she was released over the weekend, according to Iran-based human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh. who cited official court documents. Fears are now mounting regarding the fate of a second detained woman whose arrest was reported by The Foreign Desk last week. According to campaigners, the woman, 18, was arrested on the same day and is currently being held at the Gharchak Prison in Varamin near Tehran, where conditions have been described as dismal. The prison typically houses women convicted of serious criminal offenses. In the aftermath of Movahed’s arrest, activists had taken her plight online using a hashtag #Where_Is_She in the hopes of raising international awareness. Many Instagram and Telegram channels also alluded to her as #TheBraveGirl and #EnghelabStreetGirl, referring to the street where she took off her hijab. At the recent Women’s March in Boston, supporters held up signs bearing the hashtag and an image of the woman waving her white hijab. Leading human rights organization Amnesty International had called for the immediate and unconditional release of a woman it said was taking part in a “peaceful protest against compulsory veiling,” and renewed calls to the end the practice of forced veiling deemed “abusive, discriminatory and humiliating” to women. Widespread demonstrations erupted across Iran in December with protestors initially angered by Iranian economic policies but quickly moving to express outrage against the theocratic regime in Iran and its policies of funding terror groups abroad over the plight of its own citizens. Thousands of protesters were arrested and several perished while in detention; deaths the Iranian regime labelled “suicides” but were widely questioned. Compulsory headscarves have been required in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution, with punishments of fines, lashings and even imprisonment for women who do not cover their hair. Ironically, in December, Tehran’s police chief announced that women would no longer face arrest for not wearing hijab.
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