BBC World Service

The Fifth Floor

When Iranian activist Masih Alinejad posted a picture of herself driving without a hijab, she had no idea what she was starting. Five years later, thousands of women have joined her movement against the mandatory hijab, and they have become a force for the Iranian government to reckon with. The BBC’s Nassim Hatam has been following the story.


BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week

Childhood in Iran – Episode 1

BBC Radio 4. picks The Wind in My Hair, as its book of the week. Masih Alinejad is a journalist and activist from a small village in Iran, who sparked against compulsory hijab. Across Iran, women started sharing pictures of their uncovered hair on Masih’s Facebook page in open defiance of the strict religious beliefs of their country – and often, their families.
But Masih’s journey began in a small and impoverished village in northern Iran before she made her way to some of the country’s top newspapers. Her writings angered many powerful people in Iran who forced her into exile.

In this first episode, she remembers the advice her mother gave her to overcome obstacles

School Rebellion – Episode 2

School Rebellion – Episode 2
In this episode, Masih starts an underground political book group while at school. She continued to be a troublemaker, reading out a poem against the Islamic Republic during a Quran recital competition. The group soon decides to publish secret pamphlets calling for greater freedom in Iranian society, and word of their activities begins to spread alarmingly quickly. Meanwhile, Masih struggles with the question of whether she can bear to get married, purely in order to travel and live more freely.

Iranian Gaol – Episode 3

Iranian Gaol – Episode 3
Masih is still a teenager when she has to face the horror of an Iranian jail and separation from her fiancé. In between the interrogations, she discovers she has more than herself to worry about – she is pregnant.

Political Reporter – Episode 4

Political Reporter – Episode 4
Masih begins a new career as a political journalist in Iran, exposing corruption in Iranian politics. While she gains readers, she also begins to be threatened by the authorities. Meanwhile, she faces divorce and losing custody of her son.

My Stealthy Freedom – Episode 5

My Stealthy Freedom – Episode 5
It is now years later and Masih’s journalism have turned her into a target. Masih finds that she is no longer safe in Tehran working as a political journalist. She is forced into exile during the Iranian elections of 2009 but finds a way to protest against the Islamic Republic with her online movement.