Iran protests latest: Pictures showing Tehran woman removing hijab during anti-government rally hailed as symbol of defiance


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An Iranian woman pictured removing her hijab in an apparent protest against the country's mandatory Islamic dress code has been hailed as a "hero".

Footage shows the woman silently waving a white flag during anti-government protests in the capital Tehran, which have seen around 450 people arrested in three days. 

Women in Iran have been forced to cover their hair since the 1979 revolution. 

Last week, police in Tehran announced they would no longer arrest women for failing to observe the Islamic dress code. 

The semi-official Tasnim news agency said violators would instead be made to attend classes given by police, but added that repeat offenders could still be subject to legal action. 

Younger and more liberal-minded women have long pushed the boundaries of the country's official dress code by wearing loose headscarves that don't fully cover their hair and painting their nails. 

The video of the woman's defiant gesture was posted on Twitter by Armin Navabi, a former Muslim from Iran and author of "Why There Is No God".

"This woman in Iran took off her Hijab to protest the mandatory Islamic dress code imposed on Iranian women," he tweeted, using the hashtag "#IStandWithHer".

The tweet has been retweeted over 15,000 times and liked more than 32,000 times.

Many people on social media celebrated the woman's protest. 

"This woman is brave," one wrote, while others called her a "real hero" and said "her bravery is to be admired."

In the largest demonstrations to strike Iran since its disputed 2009 presidential election, six days of unrest across the country have resulted in a death toll of at least 20. 

The protests began on Thursday in Mashhad over Iran's weak economy and a jump in food prices and have expanded to several cities, with some protesters chanting against the government and the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Hundreds of people have been arrested and a prominent judge warned that some could face the death penalty. 

Iran's semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Mousa Ghazanfarabadi as saying: "Obviously one of their charges can be Moharebeh," or waging war against God, a capital offence in Iran. 

Around 450 protesters have been arrested in the capital city of Tehran.

The semi-official ILNA news agency qouoted Ali Asghar Nasserbakht, a security deputy governor of Tehran, who said security forces arrested 200 protesters on Saturday, 150 on Sunday and 100 on Monday.

So far, authorities have not released a nationwide figure for arrests.

Additional reporting by agencies