Mahsa Amini was 22 years old when she was stopped on her way to Tehran by Iran’s morality police. According to the officers, she was not wearing the hijab in accordance with the country’s strict rules. Amini was arrested and transferred to a prison in Tehran, the Iranian capital. Days later, on September 16, she died in police custody. According to her family, Amini was beaten to death at the police station. Her death has triggered unprecedented protests across Iran. More than 150 Iranian women and girls have been killed during the demonstrations, according to the NGO Iran Human Rights.
In France, more than 50 high-profile women have filmed themselves cutting their hair in support of the Iranian women killed during the protests, and those who continue to stand up for their rights. The video, which was posted on social media on Wednesday, features actress Marion Cotillard, singer Charlotte Gainsbourg and her mother Jane Birkin, comedian Muriel Robin and French star Juliette Binoche, who says “for freedom” as she cuts off her hair.
The video is an initiative by three lawyers: Julie Couturier, from the Paris Bar; Richard Sédillot, a human rights lawyer; and Christiane Feral Schuhl, a former president of the Paris Bar. On Instagram, it was accompanied by the message: “It is impossible not to denounce again and again this terrible repression. The dead are already numbered in the dozens, including children. The arrests only add to the number of prisoners already illegally detained and too often tortured. We have therefore decided to respond to the call by cutting off some of our strands of hair.” The video ends with a drawing by Marjane Satrapi, a French-Iranian artist who wrote about growing up in Iran during the Iranian Revolution in the graphic novels Persepolis and Perspolis 2.
The French video echoes those showing Iranian women cutting off their hair, shaving their heads and burning their headscarves in acts of defiance. These clips have gone viral on social media, and inspired women across the world to cut their hair in solidarity. On Wednesday, Swedish MEP Abir Al-Sahlani even cut her hair during a speech in the EU assembly. Since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, wearing the hijab has been mandatory for all women and girls over the age of seven. But now, following Amini’s death, women in Iran are challenging this rule.