'Happy' Iranian woman
'Happy' Iranian womanScreenshot

Masih Alinejad, a Britain-based journalist who initiated a popular Facebook protest against Iran's strict dress code, denies Iranian allegations that she was sexually assaulted, or that alternatively, she is “a whore.”

“Masih Alinejad is a whore, and not a heretic as some people claim her to be,” wrote Vahid Yaminpour, an influential conservative Iranian commentator and TV personality, according to IranWire. “We shouldn’t elevate her to the level of a heretic. She’s just trying to compensate her psychological (and probably financial) needs by recruiting young women and sharing her notoriety with younger women who are still not prostitutes.”

IranWire further reported that Yaminpour’s comments in his Google Plus (which is banned in Iran) came two days after Iranian state television aired a report claiming that Alinejad, founder of the “My Stealthy Freedom” social media campaign against mandatory veiling, had been assaulted and raped in London in the presence of her son.

The broadcast described Alinejad as a “nexus of sedition” over her campaign, which has garnered over 430,000 likes on Facebook. Hundreds of Iranian women from inside the country have posted pictures of themselves sans headscarves, in a popular protest.

State television painted the campaign as promoting indecency amongst Iranian women, and alleged that an “unstable” Alinejad had stripped naked on a London street and was shortly thereafter raped by three passersby while her son stood watching. The report also claimed that London’s Metropolitan Police, together with BBC officials, had sought to keep the alleged rape confidential, but that the story emerged on social media sites and generated a broad reaction. “During her time in Iran this same individual was also banned from the Iranian parliament for ethical corruption,” it continued.

Alinejad swiftly rebutted the report on her Facebook page–which has 224,000 followers, as opposed to the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) Facebook page, which is liked by 16,463. She posted that she was in good health and had not endured an attack of any sort.

IranWire explains that Iran’s state television is “a hardliner-controlled propaganda arm of the regime establishment and has historically been used as a tool of political repression.” It is run by political opponents of President Rouhani’s policies of moderating some of Iran's more radical religious policies, and has shown “a hysterical anxiety around Alinejad’s 'Freedom' campaign, which has resonated across Iran with unexpected force,” the news site added.

The six Iranians arrested last month for making a tribute video to Pharrell Williams' hit song "Happy," in which unveiled women danced with men, have since been released. However, they were forced to "repent" on national TV - after reportedly undergoing serious abuse.

The video was reportedly uploaded to YouTube late last month; one upload of the six dancing in Tehran to Williams' catchy song promoting happiness garnered over half a million views on YouTube in a few days after being posted.