Oscar winners in France cut their hair in support of Iran
PARIS — On Wednesday, Oscar winners Marion Cotillard and Juliette Binoche, along with other French screen and music stars, posted a video of themselves cutting off locks of hair in solidarity with protesters in Iran. Binoche said “For freedom” as she cut off a large section of her hair from the top of her head and waved it for the cameras.
In the midst of widespread anti-government protests in Iran, a video with the hashtag “HairForFreedom” has surfaced. The arrest and subsequent death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code sparked the unrest. It has become a common sight at protests for some Iranian demonstrators to publicly shave their heads.
From Turkish singer Melek Moso on stage last week to women in Lebanon and Syria to Swedish MP Abir Al-Sahlani in the halls of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday, images of women cutting their hair in solidarity with Iranian women have gone viral . The Iranian embassy in Rome is the intended recipient of a collection of locks of hair collected by a museum there.
Dorna Javan, a France-based Iranian political scientist who specializes in Iran, said: “Cutting women’s hair in Iran is a form of protest… a symbol of opposition to the compulsory hijab.” She also said that this kind of visible display of support will help women around the world stand in solidarity with their counterparts in Iran.
The Instagram account “soutienfemmesiran,” which translates to “support women in Iran,” posted a video of Cotillard, Binoche and dozens of other women cutting off strands of hair. These men and women turn to us for help. They command our respect for their courage and honor, as indicated in the accompanying post.
Due to the call out to us, we decided to cut some of these locks ourselves. Actress Charlotte Rampling was also in attendance, as was singer Charlotte Gainsbourg’s daughter Charlotte, who was pictured cutting off a lock of her mother’s hair.
The custom of women in Iran cutting their hair as a symbol of protest has deep roots in the country’s history and folklore. In the national epic of Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan, the Shahnameh (“Book of Kings”), written by the Persian poet Firdousi between 977 and 1010 AD, a princess cuts off her hair as a form of protest against the unjust death of her husband.
Shara Atashi, an Iranian author living in Wales, tweeted: “Women cutting their hair is an ancient Persian tradition found in the Shahnameh when the rage is stronger than the oppressor’s power.”
Scholar Javan called it a “goodwill gesture” and called for stronger political action by the international community to support the protesters in Iran.
“We cannot diminish the struggle of Iranian women for their rights,” she said, referring to a struggle that began in the second half of the nineteenth century. But these videos can help their cause go viral and reach people around the world.
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