Iranian Broadcast Of Woman's 'Confession' Sparks Outrage On Social Media

The broadcast of a woman's apparent forced confession on Iranian state TV has sparked a wave of anger from activists.

Sepideh Rashno, a 28-year-old writer and artist, was arrested on June 15 after a video of her arguing with another woman who was enforcing rules on wearing a head scarf on a bus in Tehran went viral.

The other woman threatened to send the video -- which showed Rashno riding the bus without the mandatory hijab -- to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) .

Weeks after widespread concern grew over Rashno's whereabouts, a Twitter storm started with the hashtag "Where is Sepideh?"

Iran's state television subsequently showed her in a video report on July 30.

During a one-sided narrative over the confrontation, a pale-faced Rashno was shown for a few seconds in what looked like a studio setting saying lines that appeared to have been written by authorities.

The broadcast of Rashno's words caused an immediate reaction on social media.

Atena Daemi, a human rights defender and former political prisoner, compared the video to the "forced confession" given by 25 Kurdish prisoners who were identified as "ISIS members."

"The creation of scenarios against Sepideh Rashno and the broadcast of her forced confession film, citing the literature of the reformists, reminded me of the execution of those dear ones," Daemi said in a tweet.

The confession aired amid recent reports that authorities in Iran are increasingly cracking down on women deemed to be in violation of wearing the hijab, which is mandatory in public in Iran.

Iran's notorious Guidance Patrols, or morality police, have become increasingly active and violent. Videos have emerged on social media appearing to show officers detaining women, forcing them into vans, and whisking them away.

Mehdi Yerahi, a famous Iranian singer, wrote in a tweet that he was "extremely disgusted" with the broadcaster and said he would no longer allow this anti-human organization" to use and broadcast "any of my works under any circumstances."

A July 5 order by President Ebrahim Raisi to enforce the hijab law has resulted in a new list of restrictions on how women can dress.

Following the order, women judged not to be in compliance have been barred from government offices, banks, and public transportation.

In response, activists have launched a social-media campaign under the hashtag #no2hijab to urge people to boycott companies enforcing the tougher restrictions.

On July 12, women's rights activists posted videos of themselves publicly removing their veils to coincide with the government’s National Day of Hijab and Chastity.

The hijab first became compulsory in public for Iranian women and girls over the age of 9 after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Many Iranian women have flouted the rule over the years in protest and pushed the boundaries of what officials say is acceptable clothing.

With writing and reporting by Ardeshir Tayebi