4 December 2023
Fact checkFalse

False: Flag made of hair is a 2014 artwork, not a protest sign by Iranian women

Belgian artist Edith Dekyndt made the flag in 2014. The artwork has nothing to do with the death of a 22-year-old woman in Iran that triggered international outcry and protests.


On Sept. 26, a YouTube video claimed that Iranian women made a flag with their own hair amid protests following the death of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini, who was detained after she allegedly broke the law mandating women to cover their hair with a hijab.

The video on YouTube seems to have been taken from a WeChat post that said the flag serves as a symbol of Iranian women’s pursuit of freedom.

The WeChat user says he is a former journalist in the bio.

WeChat user claimed the flag is ‘a symbol of pursuing freedom’

The YouTube account has more than 2,600 subscribers, and the WeChat video received over 1,500 likes and 8,000 shares as of this writing.

The video and similar images of the same “hair flag” also spread on Twitter, Weibo and Douyin in different languages.

Together, these posts amassed over 35,000 likes and thousands of shares.

Indian news outlet Firstpost also reported about the flag, repeating the same claim, with the headline: “Flag of Honour: Iranian women hoist chopped hair on stick as most powerful symbol of dissent.”

However, these claims are false. The flag made of hair that appears in the widely shared video clip and images is a 2014 artwork by Edith Dekyndt, a Belgian artist.

Through image search, Annie Lab found a booklet created for an art exhibit called “Ombre indigène,” which, among other things, showcases the image of the flag in question.

We reached out to ARGOS, an audiovisual art institution that distributed the artwork. Their representative confirmed in an email that it was produced by Dekyndt in 2014.

Comparison of the WeChat post and images found on Argos’ website

“A flag made of hair was stuck in the ground and filmed on top of rocks on the Diamant coast, in Martinique,” Laurence Alary, distribution manager at ARGOS, said in the email.

According to ARGOS, Ombre indigène was about African captives whose boat ran aground in Martinique, an island in the eastern Caribbean Sea, on April 8, 1830.

This claim has also been debunked by fact-checkers in India such as the Digital Forensics, Research and Analytics Center, and News Mobile.

The death of Mahsa Amini in mid-September triggered worldwide reactions and protests. Removing headscarves and cutting hair became a symbol of solidarity with women in Iran.