By Thomas Erdbrink  –   Jan. 29, 2018

TEHRAN — Climbing atop a five-foot-tall utility box in one of Tehran’s busiest squares on Monday, an Iranian woman removed her head scarf, tied it to a stick and waved it for all to see. It was no small feat in Iran, where women can be arrested for publicly flouting the Islamic requirement that they cover their hair. But there she stood, her curly hair blowing in the breeze. No one protested. In fact, she was applauded by many people. Taxi drivers and older women took her picture.

“My hands were trembling,” the 28-year-old said, asking not to be named out of fear of arrest. “I was anxious and feeling powerful at the same time. And proud, I felt proud.”

She was not alone. On Monday several other women, a total of six, according to social media accounts, made the same symbolic gesture:

At least one of the women protesting on Monday was arrested by the police, a shopkeeper who witnessed the arrest said. And some said this might just be the beginning. “My guess is that more of these protests will follow,” said Nasrin Sotoudeh, a lawyer and human rights activist. “It’s obvious that some women want to decide for themselves what to wear.”

The Islamic head scarf, or hijab, is seen by Iranian ideologues as a pillar of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The law regarding the scarf has been enforced since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and a head scarf is obligatory for every woman in the country, even tourists and visiting foreign dignitaries.

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