Iran’s Raisi says hijab is the law as women face ‘yoghurt attack’

Iranian president says hijab is the law after viral video shows man throwing yoghurt at uncovered women in Mashhad.

FILE - Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi addresses lawmakers while defending his next year's budget bill at the parliament in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023. Raisi on Wednesday, March 1, ordered authorities to investigate a series of incidents in which noxious fumes have sickened students at girls' schools, which some officials suspect are attacks targeting women's education.(AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)
President Ebrahim Raisi has said that the hijab is 'a legal matter' [File: Vahid Salemi/AP Photo]

President Ebrahim Raisi has said that the hijab is “a legal matter” in Iran after a viral video appeared to show a man throwing yoghurt at two uncovered women in a shop near a holy Shia Muslim city.

Growing numbers of women have defied authorities by discarding their veils after nationwide protests that followed the death in September of a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman in the custody of the morality police for allegedly violating hijab rules. Security forces violently cracked down on the protests.

The video appeared to show two women customers entering a shop. Shortly afterwards, a man approached the women and talks to them. He then picks up what appears to be a large pot of yoghurt and throws its contents on the two women’s heads.

Judicial authorities in a town near the northeastern city of Mashhad ordered the arrest of two women, a mother and her daughter, for flouting Iran’s strict female dress rules and “committing a forbidden act”, state media reported on Saturday.

Authorities issued an arrest warrant against the man “on charges of committing an insulting act and disturbance of order”, the judiciary’s Mizan Online website reported.

Risking arrest for defying the obligatory dress code, women are still widely seen unveiled in malls, restaurants, shops and streets around the country.

Videos of unveiled women resisting the morality police have flooded social media.

In live remarks on state television, Raisi said: “If some people say they don’t believe [in the hijab] … it’s good to use persuasion … But the important point is that there is a legal requirement … and the hijab is today a legal matter.”

Authorities said the owner of the dairy shop, who confronted the attacker, had been warned.

Reports on social media showed his shop had been shut, although he was quoted by a local news agency as saying he had been allowed to reopen and was due to “give explanations” to a court.

Judiciary chief Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei earlier threatened to prosecute “without mercy” women who appear in public unveiled, Iranian media reported.

“Unveiling is tantamount to enmity of [our] values,” Ejei was quoted as saying by several news sites.

He added that Iran’s enemies abroad are encouraging the violations.

Under Iranian law imposed after the 1979 revolution, women are obliged to cover their hair and wear long, loose-fitting clothes to disguise their figures. Violators have faced public rebuke, fines or arrest.

Describing the veil as “one of the civilisational foundations of the Iranian nation” and “one of the practical principles of the Islamic Republic,” a Ministry of the Interior statement on Thursday said there would be no “retreat or tolerance” on the issue.

It urged citizens to confront unveiled women. Such directives have in previous decades emboldened some people to attack women without impunity.

The government has often turned a blind eye to the violation of hijab rule, but this has caused anger among pro-government religious leaders and politicians.

According to media reports, a religious leader and a lawmaker on Saturday threatened to take action themselves if the government does not step forward to enforce rules requiring individuals to observe hijab.

Source: News Agencies