Masih Alinejad angered her home country's government after she started a Facebook page, "My Stealthy Freedom," that featured pictures of her without her hijab and encouraged other women to do the same.
She learned that Iranian state TV was running a story that she was in a drug-induced, hallucinatory state when she removed her clothing and was raped by three men in front of her son.
"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, on his Facebook page. "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."
"As an Iranian journalist, I'm used to hate mail and accusations of being on the payroll of Israel's Mossad or the Queen of England whenever I'm critical of my homeland's shortcomings. But I never expected to be the center of a news story," she said in an article she wrote for Time.
Her campaign for women to declare their freedom by removing their compulsory hijab went viral. The Facebook page received over 500,000 likes in five weeks, testimonials and hundreds of pictures with women without their hijabs.
"Deciding what you can wear is a form of freedom of speech. And that is a luxury not available in Iran. But the stealthy women wanted to show a different face of Iran that is often ignored by the state-controlled media and the visiting Western media," said Alinejad.
The Iranian government is known for taking a hard line against those they believe threaten their conservative form of Islam. In May, they arrested six people for making a fan video to "Happy" by Pharrell. Alinejad said their attack on her was shocking and horrific.
"My attackers have no idea as to the horrors of rape and how it's not a joking matter for women. I'm shocked the TV program didn't even spare my son."
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