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A Different Resolution In 2023

It would become mandatory for Iranian women to wear hijab (Islamic female head covering or scarf) even inside cars in 2023. Amidst anti-hijab protests, the Ebrahim Raisi Administration has hinted that it is still not ready to bow to the ongoing protests. However, Tehran has made no official announcement in this regard, so far.

Meanwhile, the Agence France-Presse (AFP) has quoted a senior officer of the Iranian Police as saying that they would soon implement a programme, called ‘Nazer-1’ (‘Surveillance’ in Persian). According to the Police Officer, the programme is aimed at strengthening the surveillance system across the West Asian nation. He has informed the news agency that a woman shall receive a warning over phone for the “removal of hijab in cars”. Legal actions shall be taken against her for violating the rule next time.

In fact, the programme was launched in 2020 in a rare first, when car owners used to receive an SMS text message, alerting them of a dress code violation in their vehicle and warning of legal action, if repeated. “The removal of hijab has been observed in your vehicle: It is necessary to respect the norms of the society and make sure this action is not repeated,” read a message reportedly sent by the Police and posted on social media. However, the Police dropped the threat of legal action later.

The AFP has reported that the Iranian Police have urged women, yet again, to respect the national culture and social norms. In a message, the Police have mentioned that wearing hijab inside a car is a must for women, irrespective of their age.

It may be noted that the Guidance Patrol (or the religious Morality Police) of Iran arrested 22-year-old Iranian Kurd woman Mahsa Amini on September 16, 2022 for not wearing the hijab in accordance with Government standards. The Law Enforcement Command of the Islamic Republic claimed that before transferring her to the hospital, Amini had a heart attack at a Police Station, collapsed, and slid into a coma. However, eyewitnesses, including women who were detained with Amini, reportedly said that she was severely beaten up, and died as a result of Police brutality. Amini’s death under questionable circumstances triggered nation-wide anti-hijab protests.

A number of artists, singers, actors and a large section of the student community have been seen in the forefront of this movement. In fact, Iran has been witnessing the movement for the past two and a half months. The Raisi Administration hinted in December 2022 that it might relax the strict hijab rules. Since September 2022, the Morality Police’s white and green vans became a much less common sight on the streets of Tehran. However, the Government made it clear, that too in the first week of 2023, that it would never compromise with the conservative Islamic tradition and values.

As expected, the global community has condemned the proposed action of the Iranian Government. It seems that the policy-makers and religious leaders in Iran have started considering the anti-hijab movement as a prestige issue for them. In other words, the women of Iran, once again, have become the ultimate victims of an imposed conservative value system.

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