While her comments were vague and did not promise to change existing laws, they were an acknowledgment of how potent the hijab issue remains, according to Abbas Milani, director of Iranian studies at Stanford University.
“I think he knows how pervasive women’s rejection of the mandatory hijab has been,” she said. “He is trying to convince the dwindling die-hard supporters that the game is not over.”
Since September, women across Iran have been challenging strict hijab rules amid protests, the most serious challenge to the Islamic Republic since its establishment in 1979. While the movement morphed into a broad-based demand for change , the hijab, or the covering that women are required to wear by law remains a potent symbol and rallying cry. Images of protesting women and girls removing their coverings, showing their hair, and even burning their headscarves became common after the demonstrations began.
Meanwhile, the government violently cracked down on the protests and arrested the demonstrators. In recent weeks, judges have handed down at least 26 death sentences, according to the international human rights group. International Amnesty.
The US-based Human Rights Activists News Agency, or HRANA, estimates that more than 18,000 people have been detained. Iran’s judicial spokesman has announced that the number will be more than 1,000, according to IRNA.
Several celebrities have also been detained. Taraneh Alidoosti, one of Iran’s most famous actresses, was arrested last month after posting a photo of herself on her Instagram page without wearing a hijab while holding a banner with what has become the slogan of the uprising: » Woman, life, freedom».
According to ISNAa semi-official news agency, was released Wednesday after her friends and family posted bail.
In his speech, Khamenei also criticized the West for its treatment of women. Women in the West are «alienated,» she said, adding that «the Western capitalist system is a patriarchal system,» according to Mehr News Agency.