Masih Alinejad has paid a high price for letting her hair down. She’s been sentenced to prison, fled her native Iran and is unable to see her family. Here, she reveals why all she wants is to give women the choice to wear the hijab or not

Masih Alinejad unties her hair, and a sea of corkscrew curls cascades down her shoulders. It looks amazing, but the significance of Masih’s hair isn’t looks – it’s politics. Masih is an Iranian activist who has spent her life fighting for women’s rights in her country through one simple battle: a campaign against the law that says they have to wear a veil, or hijab, over their hair when they’re in public.

Since adolescence, Masih has been a thorn in the side of the ayatollahs who rule Iran. She’s complained and protested, spoken out and challenged, vociferously, all those who support the compulsory wearing of the hijab. When she was 19 she was arrested by the morality police, held in prison without charge and, eventually, told by a judge that he had enough evidence to have her executed. That judge let her go, but you can’t help feeling that if he’d had a crystal ball, he might have taken a different course of action. Because Masih is a living nightmare for the Iranian authorities.

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