Iran - Parliamentarians Demand Stronger Veil Enforcement
Proponents fear Western cultural influence against the veil
Veiled Iranian women lawmakers attend an open session of parliament in this file photo. (AFP)
15 June, 2014 - TEHRAN: Two thirds of Iran’s MPs have written to the president urging him to take measures to ensure women correctly observe Islamic dress, denouncing Western cultural influence against the veil.
The 195 members of the 290-strong parliament who signed the letter in part blamed satellite television for feeding the trend, ISNA news agency reported on Sunday.
A defining feature of Iran’s interpretation of Islamic law since the 1979 revolution, hijab obliges women to cover their hair and much of their body in loose clothing when outside, regardless of their religion.
A dedicated “morality police” has long handed out fines, verbal notices or even arrested women it considers are not properly observing the rules, but lawmakers have in recent months criticized lax enforcement.
In the letter, the MPs wrote: “One of the main areas of cultural invasion is in trying to change the way of life of Iranians regarding the veil. We ask that you give the necessary orders to enforce the law.”
However, President Hassan Rouhani, a self-declared moderate who was surprisingly elected last June, has expressed a desire to expand social freedoms — to the disapproval of hard-liners.
In October, he asked police to be moderate when enforcing the hijab requirements and recently said, “We cannot take people to heaven by using whips,” a remark that was condemned by conservatives.
Rather than wearing a full length traditional “chador” that drapes the head and body, many women wear a thinner head scarf, leggings and shirt.
The MPs letter and push for stronger enforcement coincides with an online campaign in which hundreds of Iranian women posted pictures of themselves flouting the dress code inside
The Facebook page “Stealthy Freedoms of Women in
The campaign did not generate a reaction from the government.
At least two protests to demand enforcement of hijab have taken place in