TEHRAN: Iran said on Saturday it was reviewing a decades-old law that requires women to cover their heads, as it struggles to quell more than two months of dress code protests.
Protests have swept Iran since the September 16 death in custody of Mahsa Aminia 22-year-old Iranian of Kurdish origin arrested by morality police for allegedly violating Sharia law.
Protesters burned their hats and shouted anti-government slogans. Since Amini’s death, an increasing number of women are not observing the hijab, especially in the fashionable north of Tehran.
“Parliament and the judiciary are working (on the issue)” of whether the law should be changed, Iranian Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri said.
Quoted by the ISNA news agency, he did not specify what could be changed in the law by the two bodies, which are largely in the hands of the conservatives.
The review team met with parliament’s culture committee on Wednesday “and will see the results in a week or two”, the attorney general said.
President Ebrahim Raisi said on Saturday that Iran’s republican and Islamic foundations were constitutionally entrenched.
“But there are methods of implementing the constitution that can be flexible,” he said in televised comments.
The hijab headscarf became compulsory for all women in Iran in April 1983, four years after the Islamic Revolution toppled the US-backed monarchy.
It remains a very sensitive issue in a country where conservatives insist it should be compulsory, while reformists want to leave it to individual choice.
After the hijab law became mandatory, with changing dress standards, it became common to see women wearing tight jeans and loose, colorful scarves.
But in July this year, Raisi, an ultra-conservative, called for the mobilization of “all state institutions to enforce the headscarf law”.
However, many women continued to bend the rules.
In September, Iran’s main reform party called for the repeal of the compulsory hijab law.
The Islamic People’s Union of Iran party, formed by relatives of former reformist President Mohammad Khatami, asked the authorities on Saturday to “prepare the legal elements paving the way for the cancellation of the compulsory hijab law”.
The opposition group also calls on the Islamic Republic to “officially announce the end of the activities of the morality police” and to “allow peaceful demonstrations”, it said in a statement.
Iran accuses its nemesis the United States and its allies, including Britain, Israel and Kurdish groups based outside the country, of fomenting street protests that the government calls “riots”. “.
A general from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps this week for the first time said more than 300 people had lost their lives in the unrest since Amini’s death.
Iran’s top security body, the Supreme National Security Council, said on Saturday that the number of people killed in the protests “exceeds 200”.
Quoted by the official IRNA news agency, he said that figure included security officers, civilians and “separatists” as well as “rioters”.
The Oslo-based non-governmental organization Iran Human Rights said on Tuesday that at least 448 people had been “killed by security forces during ongoing protests across the country”.
UN rights chief Volker Turk said last week that 14,000 people, including children, had been arrested in the crackdown on the protest.
The campaign of arrests has ensnared sportspeople, celebrities and journalists.
Among the latest figures arrested is film star Mitra Hajjar, who was detained at his home on Saturday, according to the reformist newspaper Shargh.
The Supreme National Security Council said that in addition to the human toll, the violence had caused damage valued at billions of rials (millions of dollars).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *