Iranian woman who went viral for eating breakfast in restaurant without hijab is arrested

Iranian woman who went viral for eating breakfast in restaurant without hijab is arrested
The family of Donya Rad, an Iranian woman whose photograph of her eating at a restaurant in Tehran with no hijab, fear for her safety after announcing she was arrested.
3 min read
30 September, 2022
Headscarves and other 'modest dress' are mandatory in Iranian law [Getty]

An Iranian woman has been arrested after a photograph of her eating at a restaurant without the government-mandated headscarf went viral.

The picture showed two unveiled women sitting in an Iranian restaurant in Tehran - one was identified as Donya Rad and the other a friend of hers who has not been named.

"Yesterday after this photo was published, the security agencies contacted my sister Donya Rad and asked her to give some explanations," her sister Dina tweeted after the photo went viral.

"Today, after going where she was told, she was arrested. After a few hours of silence, Donya told me in a short call that she was transferred to ward 209 of Evin prison."

This is a notorious wing of Tehran prison which is reputedly run by the intelligence ministry and where torture is common.

"Our family is very concerned about her well-being," she added.

Observers say that such arrests are part of a campaign of intimidation by the Iranian government, which has faced waves of protests in recent days over the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.

"The goal of the regime is to intimidate people by its brutality and by the widespread arrests. Iranians, particularly Iranian women, have shown that they are not so easily scared off and have continued to come out. What they need are strategies for victory against the regime," Iranian author and analyst Arash Azizi told The New Arab.

He added that the protests have "galvanised" the nation in an "unprecedented way".

"[They] have really shown that getting rid of the regime is a very real wish for many if not most Iranians," though it is hard to predict the future of the current regime led by Ayatollah Ali Khameini," he said

"This government has shown that it knows no end to its brutality, especially when it comes to its own survival. But the more international attention there is, the more costly suppression will be."

Rad's arrest comes as protests continue to rock Iran after Kurdish-Iranian woman Mahsa Amini died in religious police custody earlier this month for allegedly not wearing her hijab properly. Her family and witnesses say she was beaten into a coma, leading to her death several days later.

Amini's death has sparked rage against the Iranian regime which has responded with violence.

Women have been at the forefront of the protests, often filmed cutting their hair, as well as taking off and burning headscarves in public places while chanting anti-government slogans.

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Headscarves and other 'modest dress' are mandatory in Iranian law.

In February, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ruled that women depicted in cartoons or animated films must wear the hijab.

In 2020, two senior Iranian clerics called on police to "make surroundings unsafe" for women who do not wear the hijab.