Why Everyone Is Tweeting The Hashtag #Where_Is_She

She took off her hijab in a public square and waved it like a flag.

After going viral for protesting the mandatory hijab in Iran, an Iranian woman has reportedly gone missing. Nasrin Sotoudeh, a well-known Iranian human rights lawyer, says she has tracked down the woman — a 31-year-old with a 20-month-old child — but is not ready to release her identity, according to a Facebook post. She was apparently arrested, released, arrested again and is now missing. 


The woman became a national symbol after taking off her hijab, standing on top of objects in busy sections of Tehran and waving it like a flag, Bustle reported. Videos of her defiant stance spread like wildfire online, and shortly after — at the end of December — she was arrested. Sotoudeh says she was released, rearrested and now they cannot track her down. Because of Iran's history of violence against prisoners, activists are worried she might be in danger, and people on social media begin spreading the word with the hashtag #Where_Is_She.

The day she was filmed waving her hijab, many Iranians were taking part in a protest called "White Wednesday," where Iranians wear white to protest the modesty laws that have existed on and off since 1979. Masih Alinejad, who founded My Stealthy Freedom campaign, a women's rights campaign in Iran for the choice to wear a hijab, told Al-Monitor that the woman's non-violent protest inspired many across Iran.

"Her gesture was seen as a symbol of resistance," he said. "Her protest caught the imagination of Iranian women and men, feminists and non-feminists."

The woman's protest, and the protests for women's rights in Iran, were a different wave of demonstrations than the anti-government protests that swept the country shortly after video of her waving the white hijab went viral. 

Throughout Iran, women are required to cover their heads with a hijab and wear long, loose coats. If they don't, they can be stopped by what's known as the "morality police." The laws are a result of the Islamic Revolution that took place throughout Iran in the 1970s.

"I hail what she has done," Golnar Ramesh, a 28-year-old engineer in Tehran, told The Los Angeles Times. "I don't have her courage to stand in public near Tehran University for more than an hour."

Since her disappearance, along with the hashtag, many Iranians have changed their profile pictures to pictures of the woman. Some internet memes have gone viral showing the woman bravely standing up to Iranian police.

More From A Plus


Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.