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.


Turkey’s largest media group to be sold to Erdogan ally

Syrian rebels reach evacuation deal in Eastern Ghouta town

Abbas calls US ambassador to Israel 'son of a dog'

UN says Turkey security measures 'curtail human rights'

'Saudization' taking its toll on salesmen

Exiled Syrian doctors treat refugees in Turkey

Ahed Tamimi reaches plea deal for eight months in jail

UN launching final push to salvage Libya political agreement

Conditions for displaced from Syria's Ghouta 'tragic': UN

Sisi urges Egyptians to vote, denies excluding rivals

Rights Watch says Libya not ready for elections

Saudis revamp school curriculum to combat Muslim Brotherhood

American mother trapped in Syria’s Ghouta calls out Trump

Syria workers say French firm abandoned them to jihadists

Grim Nowruz for Kurds fleeing Afrin

Sarkozy back in custody for second day of questioning

Israel confirms it hit suspected Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007

Netanyahu says African migrants threaten Jewish majority

US Senate votes on involvement in Yemen war as Saudi prince visits

What a ‘limited strike’ against Syria’s Assad might mean

Natural gas in eastern Mediterranean fuels increasing tensions

Erdogan tells US to stop ‘deceiving’, start helping on Syria

IS controls Damascus district in surprise attack

French ex-president held over Libya financing allegations

NGO says Israeli army violating Palestinian minors’ rights

Human rights chief slams Security Council for inaction on Syria

US warns Turkey over civilians caught in Syria assault

Saudi crown prince keen to cement ties with US

Erdogan vows to expand Syria op to other Kurdish-held areas

Kurdish envoy accuses foreign powers of ignoring Turkish war crimes

Morocco authorities vow to close Jerada's abandoned mines

Israeli soldier sees manslaughter sentence slashed

Turkey insists no plans to remain in Afrin

Cairo voters show unwavering support for native son Sisi

Forum in Jordan explores new teaching techniques

Gaza Strip woes receive renewed attention but no fix is expected

Kurds, Syrian opposition condemn Afrin looting

36 jihadists killed in Egypt’s Sinai

Israel arrests French consulate worker for gun smuggling

Pro-Turkish forces loot Afrin

Israel prepares to demolish Jerusalem attacker's home

Saudi crown prince says his country to seek nuclear bomb if Iran does

Arab women artists in diaspora focus on identity and loss

Tunisia’s Central Bank targets inflation but may hurt growth prospects

Libya’s health system reflects a larger humanitarian crisis