Women's Rights & Movements in IranIran launches new crackdown on unIslamic dress

Iran launches new crackdown on unIslamic dress

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AFP: Iran on Monday launched a new wave of a moral crackdown against women who “dress like models” and men whose hairstyles are deemed unIslamic, police said. by Farhad Pouladi

TEHRAN, July 23, 2007 (AFP) – Iran on Monday launched a new wave of a moral crackdown against women who “dress like models” and men whose hairstyles are deemed unIslamic, police said.

Tehran’s police force dispatched dozens of police cars and minibuses into the early evening rush-hour to enforce the dress rules at major squares in the city centre, an AFP correspondent said.

The new “plan to increase security in society” — which is limited to Tehran but will later extend nationwide — comes after a pre-summer drive by the police resulted in thousands of warnings and hundreds of arrests.

“We have vowed to continue the campaign to reinforce the plan to increase security in society with new personnel who have received the necessary training,” the Tehran police head of information Mehdi Ahmadi told reporters as the first police forces were dispatched.

“This notably includes the use of 100 female police officers,” he added.

He said that the campaign would target women who were badly veiled, wore overly tight overcoats, sported excessively short trousers and were “dressed like models.”

“As far as men are concerned we will act against those who have Western-style haircuts and clothing. We are also going to act against clothes shops and hairdressers.”

Ahmadi said the policy will be first to give a verbal warning to those who infringe the law and, if necessary, they will then be arrested and taken for “consultation.”

“Normally the problem is resolved here. If not, and these cases are often those of re-offenders, the case is sent to the judiciary,” Ahmadi said.

An AFP correspondent in Vanak Square in central Tehran saw women being apprehended and then being escorted towards a waiting minibus by female police officers. They then waited in the bus as the operation continued.

Other women were seen quickly adjusting their headscarves to cover loose hair when they saw the officers.

Women in Iran are obliged to cover all bodily contours and their heads, but in recent years many have pushed the boundaries by showing off bare ankles and fashionably styled hair beneath their headscarves.

Although the April crackdown was the severest such drive in years, some women are still donning figure-hugging coats and skimpy headscarves. The wacky hairdos favoured by some young men in Tehran are also much in evidence.

By renewing the drive, it appears the police want to send a message that they are serious about enforcing the dress rules.

Many conservatives have applauded the crackdown as important to protect the security of society, but moderates have publicly questioned whether Iran would be better off tackling poverty and crime rather than slack dressing.

Ahmadi emphasised that the plan was not just restricted to enforcing Islamic dress rules but also targeted all those who disrupt “security” in society.

“In this plan, sexual harrassment in the street, addicts and hooligans and the security of recreational places will be targeted,” he told the ISNA news agency.

He added that the police would also step up the fight against what he described as “sexually deviant groups and Satan-worshipping cults.”

“Some young people, intentionally or unwittingly, are walking advertisements for Western deviant sexual and Satan-worshipping cults. In this plan such people will be identified and confronted.”

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