In Iran, women who dress themselves in a manner deemed immodest must reckon with reprisals from the Iranian Moral Police and the Revolutionary Guards. For more than 30 years there has been a public feud between women who challenge the rules, and the repressive forces in charge of enforcing them.
Again and again the Islamist rulers have ordered stricter enforcement measures, often resulting in mass arrests. According to Iranian police Chief Ismael Ahmadi Moqadam, Iran now wants to ratchet up its fight against women who it believes dress in an un-Islamic way. Moqadam says that his forces require the assistance of Iran’s „moral capital and pious people,“ and that the regime „must not allow the virus to spread by badly worn headscarves.“
On June 19th, Iranian news agency Fars News quoted the police chief as saying: „We are keen to fulfill our legal and religious duty and we will behave in this way very carefully, so that no one protests.“ The regime is again displaying its intolerance for dissent.
While police forces focus on repressive efforts, Iranian clerical authorities have begun attacking the West for propagating against Muslim culture. On June 17th, Fars News reported that Iranian cleric Seyyed Mehdi Mousavi Hojatulislam claimed that „Westerners lay traps for the youth“ by propagating against the hijab and women wearing veils.
Revolutionary Guards Fighting Women
Currently in Iran Islamists hold a monopoly on power, allowing them great freedom to debate the best method to further Islamise the nation. The ongoing debate is whether or not to Islamise Iranian society through propaganda in schools and media sources, or rather through the sheer force of the powerful Revolutionary Guards and Moral Police.
Ignoring the large number of Iranian people who want to live in a free society, the current regime appears intent on permanently adjusting the beliefs and behaviour of its citizens to conform to their radical Islamist model – an outcome they believe can be achieved only by using various forms of totalitarian violence.
As promised, in recent weeks Fars News and other media agencies have published a number of articles which called for „religious education“ in families, with the expressed intention of promoting modest Islamic dress for women. Furthermore, Fars News released photos of two women who had been arrested while they were sitting in a vehicle and wearing headscarves and mini-skirts.
Dictated by state clerics, the legally defined „Islamic culture“ is a direct affront to secular culture in Iran. To enforce these laws a Department of Cultural Affairs exists within the Revolutionary Guards to ensure that all „institutions“ in Iranian society adhere to their „religious and legal duty.“
Hamidreza Moqadamfar, Secretary of the Department of Cultural Affairs, warned that it is not enough if „women wearing headscarves incorrectly are combated only by cultural means.“ He also stated that resistance to the Islamic dress code must be actively opposed until the phenomenon is „eliminated out of the sight of the society.“
Moqadamfar’s words display the paranoid attitude characteristic of the dictatorial Islamic regime. The Secretary has also expressed the regime’s belief that the phenomenon of non-Islamic headscarves has been repeatedly planned and executed „by foreign and domestic organised movements.“
He further argued that the organisers belong to „gangs,“ which fight against the „goals of the Islamic Revolution.“ Fars News reported on June 20th that in response to this trend the Tehran police intend to target women more than it already does. In the hot Iranian summer the strict Islamic laws will be tortuous for most of these women.
Women are Controlled Everywhere
The Revolutionary Guards are working closely with the Moral Police in the fight against women who either spurn the wearing of headscarves altogether, or wear them in an un-Islamic way, i.e. those who show even a single strand of hair.
At the beginning of Ahmadinejad’s presidency the government created a programme to „expand the culture of the hijab and modesty.“ Furthermore, the Tehran police have said that they will patrol all parts of the city to enforce the modesty laws.
On June 9th Iranian media reported that Iran’s Interior Ministry had issued new regulations for student dress following criticism that female students were not dressing in an Islamic way. In order to promote greater adherence, the Home Office decided not to introduce uniforms for women, fearing the possible unification of unrest. In addition, the students need not wear black veils, and instead have the option of donning fashionable and colourful headscarves.
Nevertheless, Tehran police also reported at the end of May that about 80 food stores had been closed in which the dress code for women had not been carefully followed.
How long will the world continue to look away while Iranian women are oppressed by the systematic, gender-apartheid policies of the Islamist dictatorship?
Wahied Wahdat-Hagh, a Fellow at the European Foundation for Democracy (EFD)