PARIS – Leading French actresses, including Juliette Binoche and Isabelle Huppert, have cut locks of their hair in protest over the death of Ms Mahsa Amini, the young Iranian woman who died while in the custody of Iran’s morality police.
The morality police enforce the Islamic republic’s strict dress code.
Ms Amini, 22, was arrested on Sept 13 in Teheran for “inappropriate attire” and died three days later in hospital, sparking waves of protest in which more than 130 people have died, according to rights groups.
Iranian authorities have reported that many members of the security forces were killed during the unrest, which has spiralled into the biggest show of opposition to Iran’s authorities in years.
Many are calling for the end of more than four decades of Islamic clerical rule.
An Instagram video posted on Wednesday by an account called soutienfemmesiran (support for women of Iran) shows Binoche and other French actresses and singers – including Marion Cotillard and Isabelle Adjani – cutting their hair, with a Farsi rendition of Italian protest song Bella Ciao accompanying the video montage.
“For freedom,” says Binoche, 58, who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in The English Patient (1996), as she snips off a huge handful of her auburn hair and holds it up to the camera.
The video includes French text which translates to: “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.”
The post has been widely relayed on other social media, including Facebook and Twitter, with the hashtag HairForFreedom.
Iran’s clerical rulers have been grappling with the biggest nationwide unrest in years since Ms Amini’s death, and protests have spread abroad including London, Paris, Rome and Madrid in solidarity with Iranian demonstrators.
“Iranian women expect support from the international community. This is a beautiful way to show that support,” said French lawyer Richard Sedillot, who initiated the action.
“This is only a first step. I hope that everybody in the world will follow, not only actresses but everyone. Men could also cut their hair. I think it will happen.”
Lawyers, media personalities and other women in France have followed suit.
Other Hollywood celebrities have also spoken out in support of the protesters in Iran. American actress Angelina Jolie wrote on Instagram last week that women “don’t need their morals policed, their minds re-educated, or their bodies controlled”.
Meanwhile, Iranian-American actress Nazanin Boniadi, who is starring in Amazon Prime Video’s The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power series, wrote in a column for entertainment trade publication Deadline on Sept 30 that “what we have witnessed in the two weeks since Mahsa’s untimely death, is nothing short of the first female-led revolution of our time”.
“Iranian women caused a paradigm shift as they took to the streets to burn their compulsory hijabs and cut off their hair in protest, while men joined them en force,” she added. REUTERS