Forbidden women riding bikes in Iran
In September 2016, the supreme leader of Iran Ali Khamenei, issued a fatwa (which is a legal ruling issued by an Islamic religious leader) that prohibits women from riding a bike in a public place.
Mr Khamenei explained via the state media, that the fatwa was issued because “riding a bicycle often attracts the attention of men and exposes the society to corruption, and thus contravenes women’s chastity, and it must be abandoned.”
Despite this, women in Iran are uploading videos of themselves riding their bikes in defiance of the fatwa that bans female cycling for “contravening women’s chastity”.
Since then, a number of women and groups of riders are refusing to adhere – and more so, are encouraging others to take a stand too.
This movement has been covered over the last year by a small number of online and social media as well as through news outlets such as:
- Mashable: These Iranian women are defying a new law against riding bicycles
- The Guardian: ‘They said girls don’t ride bikes’: Iranian women defy the cycling fatwa
- BBC: Women in Iran defy fatwa by riding bikes in public
1 My Stealthy Freedom
My Stealthy Freedom is a online movement that was started in 2014 by the activist/journalist Masih Alinejad. It is an online movement that began by sharing images of women wihtout their scarves, and has since evolved to draw international attention to a range of Iranian women’s rights and issues.
Such as not being allowed to ride a bike.
My Stealthy Freedom has been availtly promoting and sharing images of female bike riders on various social media outlets – many of which are shared using #Iranianwomenlovecycling.
This social media hashtag is used on Instagram and Twitter as a forum to publicly defy the fatwa, raise awareness and as an unregulated avenue for local female riders to show their love of riding.
Talk about locally-driven social and gender activism!
It is very inspiring to see this kind of movement – and being supported so many cyclists (and others) overseas who understand and value the importance of bike riding for all.
It is also great to see that bicycles really are universally loved.
It also makes me very humble to be living and riding in Australia.
It begs the question: How is your bike riding contributing to making society a better place for all?
Here’s a few pictures from Instagram’s #Iranianwomenlovecycling.