First Published: 2009-12-11

Veiled Iran men seek release of student leader

Scores of young men posing in photos with hijabs on social networking websites, blogs call for Tavakoli's release.


Middle East Online

Cross dressing is penalised in Iran

TEHRAN - Iranian men wearing the Islamic headscarf, or hijab, have launched a cyber campaign to press for the release of a student activist who allegedly dressed as a woman to avoid arrest during a protest.

Iran's state news agency IRNA said Majid Tavakoli was arrested on Monday as he sought to leave Tehran's Amir Kabir university "disguised as a woman" after Student Day protests.

The agency carried a photo of Tavakoli in a blue head cover and black chador.

Amir Kabir News Letter, an opposition student website, dismissed the IRNA picture as "forged," quoting witnesses.

But the news triggered a campaign on popular social networking website Facebook and some blogs, with scores of young men posing in photos with colourful head scarves, flashing a victory sign and calling for Tavakoli's release.

Tavkoli is a leading activist who spent 15 months in jail along with two fellow students after being arrested in 2006 on charges of insulting religion and the country's leadership in student publications.

Every post-pubescent woman, regardless of her religion, must cover her hair and bodily contours in public in Iran, which has been under clerical rule for 30 years.

Authorities carry out frequent moral crackdowns on un-Islamic dressers in lax hijab and tight outerwear. Cross dressing is also penalised.

There have been repeated protests in Tehran following the June 12 reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which opposition candidates and their followers have claimed was massively rigged.

Fresh protests against Ahmadinejad erupted on December 7, when Iranians campuses mark an annual Student Day.

The election has bitterly divided Iran's political class and plunged the Islamic republic into one of its worst crises.


Iraq forces fight to tighten noose around Mosul

In Syria, Kurds restore ancient names to Arabised towns

UN call to extend Yemen truce falls on deaf ears

Turkey reports over 35,000 people in detention after coup attempt

In violation of constitution, Iraq parliament votes to ban alcohol

Turkey hits Kurdish group in Syria again

Kremlin aims to 'liberate' Syria with Assad in power

Egypt court upholds 20-year sentence for Morsi

Turkey PM warns EU: Turkey has alternatives!

Battles rage in Yemen despite three-day truce

For second day, Iraq forces clash with ISIS in Kirkuk

New report accuses Syria of chemical attack in Qmenas village

Islamic Jihad stages show of force in Gaza

UN says 'crimes' in Aleppo are 'of historic proportions'

IS sniper kills Iraqi journalist in Kirkuk

US official says coalition should target IS in Raqa after Mosul

Moscow extends Aleppo ceasefire

Italy PM says officials should have voted against UNESCO Jerusalem resolution

Syrian ‘Toy Smuggler’ accused of fraud

UN: IS may use civilians as human shields in Mosul

Armed men attack refugee boat off Libya

US says will work with Turkey to deal IS 'lasting defeat'

Moscow ‘highly concerned’ at jihadists’ refusal to leave Aleppo

Four Palestinians arrested by their security forces for settlement visit

Mauritania president says no change to two-term limit

UN delays Aleppo evacuations due to lack of security assurances

Oman denies reports of arms smuggling to Yemen

Israel looking to buy three more German submarines

83 migrants rescued off Cyprus

Under pressure in Mosul, IS fighters attack Kirkuk

Air strikes hit Yemen rebels despite ceasefire

US officials: Iran boosting arms sales to Huthis via Oman

Iraq forces make gains against IS near Mosul

Arab coalition accuses Yemen rebels of breaching truce

Italian PM blocks EU sanctions threat against Russia over Aleppo

Pentagon chief in Turkey for talks on tensions with Iraq

Israeli occupation troops kill Palestinian teenager

Iraqis flee IS-held Mosul for war-torn Syria

Five years after his death, Kadhafi's 'Green Book' is ridiculed in Libya

Iraq issues warrant for former governor of Mosul

EU leaders threaten sanctions against Assad allies

Syria army urges residents to evacuate Aleppo during ceasefire

British warships shadow Syria-bound Russian naval force

Turkey unexpectedly keeps interest rate steady

British PM urges united EU response to Russia over Syria 'atrocities'