Women throughout Iran are protesting a legal ruling forbidding them from riding bicycles in public — by riding their bikes in public. The ruling, or fatwa, was issued Sept. 10 by the supreme leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei.
But that's not the end of the protest. Since the fatwa was delivered, women in Iran have taken to social media and posted pictures and video of themselves on their bikes, ABC reported. The fatwa was based on the theory that women riding bikes in public would draw the unwanted attention of men.
“Riding a bicycle often attracts the attention or men and exposes the society to corruption, and thus contravenes women’s chastity, and it must be abandoned,” Khamenei told state media, (via ABC News).
The social media campaign launched by those affected by the fatwa has spawned the hashtag #Iranianwomenlovecycling to accompany their pictures and video.
Cases for women’s modesty have been made continuously by religious leaders in Iran and the government. “Morality police” patrol the streets to ensure that women are dressed "morally," the Independent reported, and some who were found to be in violation were arrested this summer.
Signs first appeared on streets this past May asking women not to ride bikes. Police told women that if they did not comply with the road rules, they would be prosecuted.
Women have been encouraged to post images and videos on a social media and on a website called My Stealthy Freedom. Iranian writer Masih Alinejad, who founded the site, told the Independent she thinks speaking out will help champion equality for women in the Islamic Republic.
“I strongly believe that these acts will brings change,” Alinejad told the British outlet. “Women are the main agents of change and as they push for equality we see greater push back from the Islamic Republic. Already I’ve received messaged from inside Iran from women who are shocked and want to protest. This fatwa has received much ridicule on social media.”
There are approximately 36 million women in Iran.
Below are some examples of how women bike riders in Iran have taken to social media to protest the ban since its implementation.