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Iranian morality police crack down on women who don't wear headscarves

The authorities were also increasingly tracking down offences found online, prosecuting women seen without headscarves in photos posted on Instagram.

Iranian morality police crack down on women who don't wear headscarves [The Guardian]

with an increased number of checks since a new operation began on April 13, 2024.

Videos shared on social media on Thursday show that morality police units were checking on women in crowded squares in central Tehran.

Minibuses in which women were transported away in case of violations were also seen.

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Witnesses confirmed the tightened checks, which came as tensions soar in the Middle East, with the war in Gaza and after Iran’s retaliatory attack on Israel earlier on April 13.

“It’s the start of the new plan that has caused worry and hatred,’’ a 27-year-old Tehran woman said.

She said she thought the checks were mostly symbolic to stir up fear.

A 22-year-old said that women might now wear their headscarves in front of the morality watch dogs, but “it will make people hate the hijab and the system.’’

A religious woman also thought the new police action was wrong, saying, the plan would only cause tension and conflict.

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“No one has become Muslim through coercion, duress and threats, nor by wearing the headscarf.’’

The morality police had relaxed their checks for a time, partly due to heightened resistance, after mass protests led by women in autumn 2022 following the death of a woman in custody.

The authorities were also increasingly tracking down offences found online, prosecuting women seen without headscarves in photos posted on Instagram.

They were also telling shops and restaurants whose customers were caught disregarding the dress code to close.

Iranian women had to wear headscarves to conceal their hair and wear loose-fitting trousers under coats in public.

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But more and more Iranian women have been ignoring the strict dress code in protest since 2022, a tendency religious hardliners are trying to reverse.

A new law provides for severe penalties though it has not yet entered force, despite having been passed by parliament.

A revised version was due to be resubmitted to the Guardian Council, an extremely conservative supervisory body.

The 2022 protests were triggered by the death of young Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini after she was detained by the moral guardians for a headscarf violation.

An UN-commissioned expert commission concluded that her death was caused by violence after her arrest.

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