Majority of Iranian population opposes compulsory hijab: "The protests are reflective of the social reality"

Pooyan Tamimi Arab in The Conversation

Studenten van de Amir Kabir Universiteit protesteren tegen de verplichte hijab en Islamistische Republiek. Foto: Darafsh, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Students at Amir Kabir University protest against compulsory hijab and Islamist Republic. Photo: Darafsh, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Following the death of Mahsa Amini, who was arrested for wearing her hijab the wrong way, numerous protests erupted in Iran. Assistant professor in Religious Studies Pooyan Tamimi Arab wrote an article for The Conversation together with Ammar Maleki (Tilburg University) on the support for these protesters.

Religious shift

Although the protests are ongoing, some critics doubt whether the protesting women can count on support from across the country. To gain more insight into how widely supported the protests are in Iran, Tamimi Arab and Maleki conducted several anonymous surveys.

"The process has been a cat-and-mouse game", they explain. "The regime blocked a major survey application in Iran and targeted at least one of our surveys with bots, not to mention the challenge of gathering data from pro-regime respondents."

Tamimi Arab and Maleki found out that a deep shift is taking place in Iran. "While more than 90% of respondents said they had been raised in a believing and/or practising religious family, around half indicated they had become non-religious in their lifetime. Meanwhile 72% explicitly opposed the mandatory hijab."


Opponents of the compulsory hijab also expressed dissatisfaction with the Islamist Republic. "Iranian women who identify as practising Muslims have also expressed anguish over the arbitrary and extreme violence committed by the Islamic Republic against women", Tamimi Arab and Maleki write. "While some try to maintain a delicate balance between religious belief and politics, many will continue to abandon religion altogether."

"The videos that ordinary Iranians are desperately trying to show to the world are thus reflective of the social reality in the country. The facts are that the majority opposes the compulsory hijab and that people of all social layers do not want an Islamic Republic", conclude Tamimi Arab and Maleki.

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