Iranian woman who removed headscarf ‘pardoned’ after jail sentence

Vida Movahed was photographed removing her headscarf during demonstrations in Iran. (Social media)
Updated 15 April 2019
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Iranian woman who removed headscarf ‘pardoned’ after jail sentence

  • Derefshan, who revealed the verdict to local media Sunday, says she is on a pardon list
  • She removed her obligatory Islamic headscarf in a public protest

TEHRAN: An Iranian woman who removed her obligatory headscarf in a public protest has been sentenced to one year in prison but pardoned by the supreme leader, her lawyer said Sunday.

A court sentenced Vida Movahed in March after finding her guilty of encouraging public “corruption,” her lawyer, Payam Derefshan, told The Associated Press. Movahed was arrested in November. Derefshan, who first revealed the verdict to local media on Sunday, said she is on a pardon list but the release procedures are still underway.

There was no official comment. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei occasionally issues pardons, usually tied to public holidays.

Movahed, 32, was dubbed the “Girl of Enghelab Street” and briefly arrested in 2017 after she took off her headscarf and held it in the air. Video clips of the protest were widely shared on social media, and authorities briefly detained 29 women on similar charges the following year. Three have reportedly been sentenced to two years in prison and some others are believed to have left the country. Iranian court proceedings are usually closed to the public and verdicts are often not publicized.

Iranian law requires women to dress conservatively and cover their hair in public. Those who violate the rules are usually sentenced to two months in prison or less and fined around $25.

Authorities have adopted a tougher approach toward the protests, which they say are part of a campaign orchestrated from abroad by opposition groups and social media networks.

Also on Sunday, the official IRNA news agency reported that an appeals court upheld the 13-year prison sentence of a lawyer who was jailed in 2018 after voicing support for people detained during anti-government protests.

Mohammad Najafi was sentenced in December to 10 years for “conveying information to a hostile country” through interviews with foreign media, two years for insulting the supreme leader and one year for publicly supporting opposition groups.

The same appeals court reduced the sentence of his associate, Ali Bagheri, from 12 years to five years. He had faced similar charges.

The demonstrations in late 2017 and early 2018, which focused on economic grievances, lasted for days and resulted in the deaths of dozens and the arrest of hundreds more.


Kosovan women returned from Syria face house arrest

Updated 24 April 2019
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Kosovan women returned from Syria face house arrest

  • Four alleged militants, all men, were arrested the moment they were brought to the country
  • The state prosecution said all 32 repatriated women are under investigation

PRISTINA: Kosovo prosecutors have requested the house arrest of 16 women repatriated from Syria, saying they are suspected of joining or taking part as foreign fighters there.

The women appeared on Wednesday in court in Pristina, a day after 10 other women were put under house arrest. None have been charged with a crime.

Four alleged militants, all men, were arrested the moment they were brought to the country.

The women and children were sent to the Foreign Detention Centre in the outskirts of Pristina but were freed to go home after 72 hours.

Ten women were seen entering Pristina Basic Court in a police escort on Tuesday. The court said in a statement later that they had been placed under house arrest on charges of joining foreign armed groups and terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq from 2014 to 2019.

The state prosecution said all 32 repatriated women are under investigation and more of them are expected to appear in front of judges on Wednesday. The prosecution has yet to file charges.

After the collapse of Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq, countries around the world are wrestling with how to handle militants and their families seeking to return to their home countries.

Kosovo's population is nominally 90 percent Muslim, but the country is largely secular in outlook. More than 300 of its citizens travelled to Syria since 2012 and 70 men who fought alongside militant groups were killed.

Police said 30 Kosovan fighters, 49 women and eight children remain in the conflict zones. The government said it plans to bring back those who are still there.

International and local security agencies have previously warned of the risk posed by returning fighters. In 2015, Kosovo adopted a law making fighting in foreign conflicts punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

On Saturday, 110 Kosovar citizens — the four alleged foreign fighters, 32 women and 74 children — were returned to Kosovo with assistance from the United States, the first such move for a European country.

Authorities say there are still 87 Kosovar citizens in Syria.