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Iran media mourns female mathematician
July 17, 2017
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TEHRAN: Iranian media have hailed trailblazing Iran-born mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani following her death from cancer, with her image blazoned across newspaper front pages on Sunday.

In some cases newspapers even broke with tradition and portrayed Mirzakhani without her hair covered by a hijab -- mandatory for women in public since the Islamic republic’s 1979 revolution.

When Mirzakhani won the Fields Medal -- the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for mathematics -- in 2014, newspapers used every means possible to avoid showing her hair, including publishing old images of her in Iran with covered hair or drawing her picture with an improvised head scarf.

Some criticised the move then and on Sunday many chose to publish Mirzakhani’s picture without a hijab -- perhaps easier to justify for authorities after her death.

Hamshahri, a centrist newspaper owned by the municipality of Tehran, and reformist economic daily Donyaye Eghtesad both used full-blown portraits of her without a hijab. The Queen of Mathematics’ Eternal Departure, Donyaye Eghtesad’s headline read.

The reformist Shargh daily published a photo of her wearing a hat -- under the headline The Queen of Numbers Land -- while some others used designs and photo editing to fade her signature short hair into a black backdrop.

Only ultraconservative newspapers Resalat and Keyhan did not feature Mirzakhani’s picture on the front page, with the latter covering her story in an inside page with a picture of her wearing hijab.

There was an outpouring of grief from Iranians over her passing, not least because she represented a more globalised and positive image of the country than usually depicted.

“Her work and her scientific achievements are clearly beyond my understanding but from the little knowledge I have, I can see how immense her intelligence and works are,” said Nima Zaare, a Tehran-based artist who drew a portrait of Mirzakhani following her Fields Medal win.

“Normally I don’t do portraits, but I was greatly honoured to draw such a genius. I was truly devastated when I heard the news of her death yesterday,” he added.

Messages of grief also poured in on social media, including from senior officials.

Agence France-Presse

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