Netizens slam Nike for portraying mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani in hijab

Sports merchandise maker Nike is facing ire of the netizens after their latest newsletter featured a portrayal of famous Iranian mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani in Islamic headscarf (hijab). The reason for the ire, was the fact that the Late mathematician, known for making ground breaking findings in the field, was never actually a supporter of such practices.

Mirzakhani, had to sport a hijab during her time in Iran, as it is compulsory according to the laws of the country. As per the laws of Iran, any woman who is an Iranian national, will have to wear a headscarf in public and their overall attire should be loose-fitting.

However, once the mathematician left Iran, she was never spotted wearing hijab again. In fact, even while accepting the Fields medal for her contributions in the sphere of mathematics, Mirzakhani was bareheaded.

People on twitter and other social media platforms termed the hijab wearing portrayal of Maryam Mirzakhani in the Nike newsletter, as an attempt of promoting the attire. Hitting out at Nike, one twitter user wrote “Hi @Nike did your internal newsletter show a portrait of the late Iranian maths genius Maryam Mirzakhani in a hijab that she was forced to wear by the Iranian theocracy? She took her hijab off in America, as is documented even in Iranian newspaper obituaries. Please clarify ASAP.”

While political commentator Sunanda Vashisht said,” what a shame @Nike- Shame On you. Maryam Mirzakhani had rejected Hijab. Hope you respect that.”

Similar views were espoused by many other twitter users also.

Maryam Mirzakhani was an Iranian mathematician and a professor of mathematics at Stanford University. Her research topics included Teichmüller theory, hyperbolic geometry, ergodic theory, and symplectic geometry. In 2005, as a result of her research, she was honored in Popular Science’s fourth annual “Brilliant 10” in which she was acknowledged as one of the top 10 young minds who have pushed their fields in innovative directions.

On 13 August 2014, Mirzakhani was honored with the Fields Medal, the most prestigious award in mathematics. Thus, she became both the first, and to date, the only woman and the first Iranian to be honored with the award. The award committee cited her work in “the dynamics and geometry of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces”.

On 14 July 2017, Mirzakhani died of breast cancer at the age of 40.