Crackdown in Iran: What women wear
By Pari Esfandiari on April 27, 2007
Since few days ago the Iranian police have launched a crack down on women whose hijabs do not match the governmentâ€™s expectations.
Every spring Iranian authorities increase pressure on women to observe the Islamic dress code, fearing that the unbearable summer heat may encourage women to bare more skin and hair. But this year government is exhibiting the toughest approach in last two decades. The streets of Tehran were filled with morality police, many of whom are women, although the area north of Tehran was quiet. Many women decided to remain at home; as a consequence, many shops and some shopping malls were closed. Still, 3500 warnings were handed over to women and about 300 women were arrested for wearing an overcoat that was too short or tight, for having a loose scarf, for wearing three-quarter length pants, or for showing their toes. Men with short sleeves or long hair were also arrested. Everyone is hoping â€œthis madnessâ€ will calm down in few days time.
Considering the extent of international and national crisis Iran is facing, the move may seem irrational. In May issue of Play Boy in an article titled "Sex in Iran" written by Pari Esfandiari and Richard Buskin; we explained how authorities in Iran use foreign threat as an excuse to strangle civil rights and crash oppositions in the name of national security. The current nuclear dispute and the imposed sanctions serve well for this purpose. Over last few month pressure on civil rights have been mounting and arrests have been made of activists and human right proponents.
But the move could cause a backlash, since it clearly conflicts with President Ahmadinejadâ€™s election promises, not to mention his increasing unpopularity due to bad economy and increasing unemployment. The move has been criticized by several members of parliament, and brought up roar from many intellectuals, not to mention the anger from general public. Fearing a backlash, the authorities have issued warnings to the press about how to treat this sensitive issue. The hijab is an obvious and critical indicator of the un/popularity of the governmentâ€™s hardliner ideology. This bold move seems to be a show of the governmentâ€™s power to more moderate factions, and at the same time an alarming indication of what may happen should the outside pressure on Iran mount up.
Images of the crackdown in Iran:
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