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Turkey 'will not deport' Iranian anti-hijab activist following her arrest: officials Open in fullscreen

Gaia Caramazza

Turkey 'will not deport' Iranian anti-hijab activist following her arrest: officials

Maryam Shariatmadari posted a video of her being taken into custody by Turkish police. [Instagram]

Date of publication: 8 September, 2020

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Reports claimed the Turkish government promised it will not deport Shariatmadari, and that her detention was simply due to problems with her residency permit.

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Iran, Turkey
Outrage broke on Monday when the prominent Iranian anti-hijab activist Maryam Shariatmadari posted a live video of her being taken into custody by Turkish police, saying she feared a lethal deportation back to Iran.

In a police car, Shariatmadari encouraged viewers to help her avoid being sent back to the country she escaped in 2018 by sharing the video on social media, which was retweeted by outraged Iranians, including Reza Pahlavi, the former crown prince of Iran.

The next communication by the activist was another social media post in which she said she was released by the authorities on Tuesday after less than 24 hours and was safe, thanking those who supported her release.

Reports claimed the Turkish government promised it will not deport Shariatmadari, and that her detention was simply due to problems with her residency permit, government sources told the Middle East Eye.

"Turkey has long been a haven for Iranian dissidents of all kinds, but recently we've seen a very worrying trend of Iranians being deported back," said Arash Azizi, Iranian writer and journalist based in the US.

Other activists which, like Shariatmadari, gained notoriety in the protests which took place between 2017 and 2018, have been deported back to Iran and been sentenced to death by the regime.

"Mohammad Rajabi and Saeed Tamjidi were sent back after only three weeks in Turkey. Farzane Jalali, an activist, is also facing deportation as we speak. Others have expressed worries," Azizi told The New Arab.

"Iran has a long history of killing its opponents abroad. It has killed more than 300 since 1979."

Azizi says the plight of female activists against the hijab has roots since the fall of the country's Shah after the outbreak of the Islamic revolution.

"Iran is the only country in the world that enforces mandatory Hijab on women, in all of its territory. It is an obvious case of repression and discrimination and the Iranian women have fought against it from the very first days of its enforcement following the 1979 revolution," said Azizi.

As early as March 1979, the International Women's Day was marked by a massive women-led demonstration against the Islamic dress.

More recently Shariatmadari and other women became symbols of the 2017 protests after they stood on crates located at Tehran's Enghelab Avenue, and took off their hijab in protest. This led to their arrest, and videos of the women being harshly treated by Iranian police went viral.

Shariatmadari was charged with "encouraging corruption by taking off the Hijab" and given a discretionary one year sentence, after which she fled to Turkey.

Azizi said that the regime has publicly advertised its attack of dissidents abroad: "We have a new phenomenon of Iran openly boasting about kidnapping its opponents abroad and bringing them to Iran for trial and execution.

"It has done the same to Ruhollah Zam, a dissident journalist who was based in Paris, and Jamshid Sharmahd, an opposition activist based in the US and with German citizenship. Zam has already been sentenced to death and Sharmahd will very likely meet the same fate."

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