Jill Layton
November 08, 2015 12:14 pm

An Iranian actress was forced to leave her country after posting photos of herself on Instagram without her hijab. As The Telegraph reports, Sadaf Taherian made the tough and brave decision to post the photos because she felt suffocated by the rules of her country and was ready to leave. But even with the recent protests against being forced to wear a head covering, in Iran, it’s still illegal for a woman to walk outside without one, let alone post picture of herself on social media.

It may not sound like a crime worth banishment, but in Iran, it’s a huge offense. So huge that government officials publicly lashed out at Taherian, forbidding her to continue acting. Her television show was even pulled from the air.

Hossein Noushabadi, a spokesman for the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance in Tehran released this statement about Taherian and another actress who defended her: “As far as this ministry is concerned, these two individuals are no longer considered to be artists anymore and do not have any right to act.”

Taherian didn’t just receive backlash from the government, but also from the public and some of her peers. Someone posted a quote from Iranian actress Parvaneh Missouri on Taherian’s official Facebook page. The person quoted her as saying, “I am 100% against this act, and I believe anybody who lives in this society should respect the laws within it. Hijab is the law in our country, and by taking off our hijab, we’re disrespecting the law, and this is committing the biggest crime.”

Though the star is facing intense backlash, she also has her staunch supporters: there are over 10,000 likes on Taherian’s original Instagram photo.

One fan showed her appreciation by writing, “Support to you, Sadaf, for your courage and boldness. All women must have a choice in how they dress. ‪#‎Strength‬“. Another supporter wrote, “You’re an amazing role model for oppressed women all around the world. Thank you!”

Since the photo was posted, Taherian has posted many more stunning photos of herself without her hijab on both her Instagram and Facebook pages.

Taherian was interviewed by journalist Masoumeh Alinejad, who asked if she was afraid for her safety. She bravely replied, “No, I am really not afraid. At this moment, with the freedom of thought and choice that I have, I will try to work nonstop to get to the point where those that insult me will then encourage me.”

She added that on set, men would often demand certain things from her in exchange for their support. “Most of what bothered me about what was happening behind the scenes in Iranian cinema were the conversations that would take place.” She said the men would say, “‘If I don’t want it to happen, you will not be on screen’; ‘If I don’t want it, you will not have a contract’; ‘If I don’t support your career, you will never become a star’; ‘You have to be with me.’ These ‘you have to be’s’ really bothered me.”

We absolutely understand why, and we think Taherian is courageous for standing up for herself and accepting the backlash that has come along with her bravery. We want to point out that while some women feel like they are being oppressed by wearing a head covering, other women view it as a source of empowerment and religious identity. It’s important for all women to feel free and at peace — so whether that involves wearing a hijab or taking it off, we think it’s critical for women make that decision for themselves.

Related reading:

The important reason Iranian women are showing pictures of their hair

What wearing the hijab means to me

(Featured image via Facebook)

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