The Woman Whose Hair Frightens Iran

Rafia Zakaria in the New York Times:

When Masih Alinejad was a girl in the tiny Iranian village of Ghomikola, her father — who eked out a living selling chickens, ducks and eggs — once brought home a thick yellow stick. Her mother, the village tailor, cut it into six tiny pieces at her husband’s instruction. Each child got one, including the youngest, our author. The yellow stick was a banana, a fruit that the poor family had never seen or tasted. Alinejad, the rebel of the lot, didn’t listen when told to throw the skin away; she sneaked it to school the next day to show off to her friends.

She got away with it, but the episode was a precursor of what is to come; hers is a life of rebellions big and small followed by ignominious and sometimes draconian punishments. At 18, Alinejad, who would ultimately rise from her humble beginnings to become one of Iran’s top journalists, is carried off to prison. She has been stealing books and carrying on with a ragtag group of feverish ideologues whose crime is printing pamphlets calling for greater dissent in Iranian society. It is enough to get them all arrested.

When Alinejad is finally let out, she is a changed woman — and not only because of the imprisonment. She is also pregnant, a fact that she discovers during her internment.

More here.