Iranian authorities are installing cameras in public places and thoroughfares to identify and penalise unveiled women, the police has announced in a new attempt to rein in increasing numbers of women defying the compulsory dress code.
After they have been identified, violators will receive “warning text messages as to the consequences”, police said in a statement on Saturday.
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The move is aimed at “preventing resistance against the hijab law,” said the statement, carried by the judiciary’s Mizan news agency and other state media, adding that such resistance tarnishes the country’s spiritual image and spreads insecurity.
The police statement said it will “not tolerate any kind of individual or collective behaviour and action in violation of the [hijab] law”.
The announcement came amid growing anger among the country’s powerful religious elite over the relaxation in mandatory hijab rules since the anti-government protests that erupted in September last year.
Defying the law
A growing number of Iranian women have been ditching their veils since the death of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman in the custody of the so-called “morality police” last September. Mahsa Amini was detained for allegedly violating the country’s dress code for women.
Her death triggered a wave of anti-government demonstrations that swept the country for months. Security forces violently cracked down on the protesters.
Still, 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.
Saturday’s police statement called on owners of businesses to “seriously monitor the observance of societal norms with their diligent inspections”.
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 said on March 30 that there would be no retreat on the issue.
It urged citizens to confront unveiled women. Such directives have in past decades emboldened hardliners to attack women. Last week, a viral video showed a man throwing yoghurt at two unveiled women in a shop.