A Swedish MEP who cut off her ponytail during a speech in an act of solidarity with Iranian women has hit out at “old, tired” world leaders for “not taking a stand” in support of them.
Iraqi-born Abir Al-Sahlani chopped off strands of her hair as she addressed the EU assembly in Strasbourg about the oppression of women in Iran.
It follows nationwide protests in the Middle Eastern country, including by many women and girls, after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died last month while in the custody of the morality police.
She had been detained in the capital Tehran for allegedly not adhering to Iran’s strict Islamic dress code. Miss Amini was accused of breaking laws that require women to cover their hair with a hijab.
And women around the world have been taking to social media over the last few weeks to share their hair-cutting videos since the news of Miss Amini’s death emerged.
Speaking to Sky News, Ms Al-Sahlani called on world leaders to do more to show support for the protesters.
She said: “Our leaders across the globe and in the democratic free world are not meeting that courage. On the opposite [contrary]. They are mumbling, giving out press releases. And I’m utterly tired of these old, tired politicians who don’t want to take a stand for what is righteous.
“The women in Iran want their freedom and it’s time to act and it’s time to show support.”
She added: “I am convinced that history will change either with force or with the cutting of our hairs.”
Earlier, Ms Al-Sahlani said during her EU speech: “Until Iran is free, our fury will be bigger than the oppressors.
“Until the women of Iran are free, we are going to stand with you.”
She ended her speech by saying “Jin, Jiyan, Azadi” – Kurdish for “Woman, Life, Freedom” – as she snipped off her ponytail and held it up.
The Iranian regime requires women to wear the hijab so that it covers their hair completely.
Miss Amini collapsed at a police station and died three days after she was arrested for allegedly wearing it too loosely.
Iranian police say she died of a heart attack and was not mistreated, but her family have cast doubt on that account.
Thousands of women across the world have been cutting their hair – a movement now spreading to celebrities, politicians and campaigners
French actresses, including Juliette Binoche, Marion Cotillard and Isabelle Huppert, have also taken part.
Binoche, 58, who has appeared in films such as The English Patient, Chocolat and Godzilla, was seen in video footage clipping off a handful of her hair and declaring: “For freedom.”
In the video posted by soutienfemmesiran (Support for Women of Iran), text was shown which read: “Mahsa Amini was abused by the morality police until death followed.
“All she stood accused of was wearing her veil in an inappropriate manner.
“She died for having a few locks of her hair exposed.”
Who was Mahsa Amini?
Last week Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe cut her hair to show her support for the women of Iran.
The British-Iranian citizen, who spent six years in jail in Iran, recorded a video of herself taking a pair of scissors to her hair.
On Monday, the foreign secretary said he had told the Foreign Office to summon Iran’s most senior diplomat in the UK, Mehdi Hosseini Matin.
James Cleverly said: “The violence levelled at protesters in Iran by the security forces is truly shocking.
“Today we have made our view clear to the Iranian authorities – instead of blaming external actors for the unrest, they should take responsibility for their actions and listen to the concerns of their people.
“We will continue to work with our partners to hold the Iranian authorities to account for their flagrant human rights violations.”