Juliette Binoche, Marion Cotillard, Isabelle Huppert Cut Their Hair in Solidarity With Iran Protests

France’s entertainment industry continues to support Iranians protesting a brutal government crackdown following the September 16 death in police custody of 22-year-old Mahi Amini.

More than 1,000 working professionals from the world of French cinema, including luminaries such as Isabelle Huppert, Le Seydoux and Thierry Fremaux, signed an open letter published on Tuesday, calling for the “assassination” of Amini. Anyone “shocked” by was urged to support the protesters. Clear.” In harsh, defiant language, she called for an end to the “intolerable oppression” of women in Iran.

And on Wednesday, 53 female French actresses and musicians cut their hair as part of #HairForFreedom, a widely viewed Instagram video campaign in support of the protesters. A video posted on Instagram begins with Juliette Binoche cutting off several inches of thick brown hair. “For freedom!” She says in English. Other French stars followed suit.

The video, directed by a trio of French lawyers, quickly spread on social media and activist sites supporting protesters in Iran, where internet use is heavily censored and monitored.

On September 13, Iran’s moral police arrested Amini, an Iranian activist of Kurdish origin, for violating strict religious codes governing how women wear and cover their hair. She was taken to an ethics “re-education center” in Tehran, where she died of a heart attack three days later, according to Iranian officials. Family and friends dispute this account, saying he had no pre-existing conditions. According to media accounts, eyewitnesses and friends say Amini was badly beaten during the arrest.

The open letter was signed by several writers, actors, directors, technicians and festival directors. “We want to collectively express our support for the Iranian women who are currently risking their lives fighting for their freedom,” the letter said.

The letter praised the protesters for “trying to build a new era in Iran and in all countries where women are marginalized.” Among the signatories to the open letter were Jacques Audiard, Audrey Devan, Julia Ducournau, Michel Hazanovicius, Alice Diop and Vincent Maravel.

Now entering its fourth week, the protests that have rocked Iran have spread to the rest of the world, as women from Los Angeles to Sydney cut their hair in solidarity with the Iranian opposition. In some cities, demonstrations have reached tens of thousands, with protesters chanting “name him” and demanding an end to Iran’s brutal theocracy.

Iran’s strict Islamic orthodoxy dictates that Iranian women cover their hair in public at all times. Strict laws are enforced by a vast “moral” bureaucracy and underlie much of the government’s approach to governance.

As Karim Sajjadpour pointed out in The Washington Post Recently, “compulsory hijab is one of the three remaining ideological pillars of Iran’s theocracy, along with “death to America” ​​and “death to Israel.” As Sadjapour notes, millions of Iranian women are killed each year. “Improper hijab” is harassed, and there are many who are serving time for this crime.

With Amini’s death, however, women’s hair has become a different kind of political activism, as protesters around the world have taken to the act of defiance. Cutting one’s locks is an ancient tradition in Iran and much of the Middle East, immortalized in literature and mythology, and often a sign of grief, mourning or anger.

With the possible exception of Binoche, who chopped off a large fistful of hair with true abandon, most of the other French actresses were more restrained. If protests continue to grow, however, that could change in Iran and elsewhere.

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