I did it for my daughter, says woman arrested for headscarf protest in Iran

As the Islamic Republic marks its 40th birthday, few issues are more politically sensitive or full of contradictions than the status of women. (AFP)
Updated 14 February 2019
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I did it for my daughter, says woman arrested for headscarf protest in Iran

  • Since Iran’s Islamic Revolution 40 years ago this week, women have been ordered to cover their hair for the sake of modesty
  • Jangravi was one of at least 39 women arrested last year in connection with hijab protests

Azam Jangravi’s heart was pounding when she climbed atop an electricity transformer box on Tehran’s busy Revolution Street a year ago. She raised her headscarf in the air and waved it above her head.
A crowd formed. People shouted at her to come down. She knew all along she was going to be arrested. But she did it anyway, she says, to change the country for her eight-year-old daughter.
“I was telling myself: ‘Viana should not grow up in the same conditions in this country that you grew up in’,” Jangavi recalled this week in an interview in an apartment in an undisclosed location outside Iran, where she now awaits news on an application for asylum.
“I kept telling myself: ‘You can do this, you can do this’,” she said. “I was feeling a very special kind of power. It was as if I was not the secondary gender anymore.”
After her protest she was arrested, fired from her job at a research institute and sentenced to three years in prison for promoting indecency and wilfully breaking Islamic law.
The court threatened to take her daughter away, but she managed to escape Iran — with Viana — before her jail term began: “I found a human smuggler with a lot of difficulty. It all happened very quickly, I left my life, my house, my car behind,” she said.
As she spoke, Viana sketched pictures. They showed her mother waving the white hijab in the air.
Since Iran’s Islamic Revolution 40 years ago this week, women have been ordered to cover their hair for the sake of modesty. Violators are publicly admonished, fined or arrested.
Jangravi was one of at least 39 women arrested last year in connection with hijab protests, according to Amnesty International, which says another 55 people were detained for their work on women’s rights, including women who tried to enter football stadiums illegally and lawyers advocating for women.
Authorities go to “extreme and absurd lengths to stop their campaign,” said Amnesty’s Iran researcher Mansoureh Mills. “Like searching people’s homes for pin badges that have ‘I am against forced hijab’ written on them.”
The badges are part of continued efforts to highlight the hijab issue, along with a campaign for women to wear white headscarves on Wednesdays.
Jangravi recalls stories her mother told her about life before the revolution: “She told me that the revolution caused a great deal of sexism and they separated men and women.”
She was inspired to act after two other women were arrested for similar protests on the same street.
“Of course we don’t expect everyone to climb up the platform in Revolution Street,” she said. “But this made our voices heard by the entire world. What we girls did made this movement into something that continues.”


Truckloads of civilians leave Daesh enclave in Syria

Updated 22 February 2019
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Truckloads of civilians leave Daesh enclave in Syria

  • The village is all that remains for Daesh in the Euphrates valley region that became its final populated stronghold in Iraq and Syria
  • The SDF has steadily driven the militants down the Euphrates after capturing their Syrian capital

NEAR BAGHOU: Trucks loaded with civilians left the last Daesh enclave in eastern Syria on Friday, as US-backed forces waited to inflict final defeat on the surrounded militants.
Reporters near the front line at Baghouz saw dozens of trucks driving out with civilians inside them, but it was not clear if more remained in the tiny pocket.
The village is all that remains for Daesh in the Euphrates valley region that became its final populated stronghold in Iraq and Syria after it lost the major cities of Mosul and Raqqa in 2017.
The SDF has steadily driven the militants down the Euphrates after capturing their Syrian capital, Raqqa, in 2017, but does not want to mount a final attack until all civilians are out.
The US-led coalition which supports the SDF has said Islamic State’s “most hardened fighters” remain holed up in Baghouz, close to the Iraqi frontier.
Mustafa Bali, head of the SDF’s media office, earlier told Reuters that more than 3,000 civilians were estimated to still be inside Baghouz and there would be an attempt to evacuate them on Friday.
“If we succeed in evacuating all the civilians, at any moment we will take the decision to storm Baghouz or force the terrorists to surrender,” he said.
Though the fall of Baghouz marks a milestone in the campaign against Islamic State and the wider conflict in Syria, the militant group is still seen as a major security threat.
It has steadily turned to guerrilla warfare and still holds territory in a remote, sparsely populated area west of the Euphrates River — a part of Syria otherwise controlled by the Syrian government and its Russian and Iranian allies.
The United States will leave “a small peacekeeping group” of 200 American troops in Syria for a period of time after a US pullout, the White House said on Thursday, as President Donald Trump pulled back from a complete withdrawal.
Trump in December ordered a withdrawal of the 2,000 troops, saying they had defeated Daesh militants in Syria.

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