Of all the photos of my wedding day, one has always carried a particular, unique kind of joy. It is an image not of me but of my bridesmaid, an Iraqi refugee, throwing her bare arms gleefully into the air, her black curls tumbling freely down her back. She had chosen the occasion of my wedding to remove the headscarf she had worn for decades – of her own choosing, to be clear, but with the belief that wearing it was a measure of her piety, her integrity, her virtue.
Yet, here she was, scarfless, and still pious, still virtuous – only visibly so profoundly, richly happier than she had been before. A former “fixer” from Basra who had been kidnapped and shot alongside journalist Steven Vincent (who was killed in the attack), she had been in America just barely more than a year.
I have thought of that photo frequently during the latest uprisings in Iran, as dozens of women risk arrest or perhaps worse by removing their hijabs in public. For my bridesmaid and me, that day marked a passage and a moment of unforgettable elation. I imagine a similar feeling has come to each of the women in Iran as well, for all the dangers they confront because of it.