Iran launches 'Noor' to clamp down on Hijab violators

By Manu Shrivastava & Agencies

The Iranian government has announced a new crackdown on women who violate the country's strict Islamic dress code, which mandates the wearing of headscarves in public.

The capital's police chief, Abbas Ali Mohammadian, announced the measures on 13 April 2024, stating that those who ignore the hijab dress code will be warned and legal action will be taken against them. The campaign, codenamed 'Noor,' is aimed at doubling down on those who break the hijab laws.

Image for representational purpose only
The morality police, known as Gasht-e Ershad, have been enforcing the hijab laws, and there have been reports of vehicles being seized and their owners punished for transporting women without veils. The authorities have also shut down cafes and restaurants where the wearing of the hijab was not respected.

The crackdown follows the death of Mahsa Amini, a young Kurdish woman who died in custody in September 2022 after being arrested for allegedly violating the hijab dress code in Tehran. Her death triggered months-long protests across Iran, which the authorities labeled as "riots" fomented by foreign governments.

The hijab issue, which has been a subject of legislation since 1936, has been a contentious issue in Iran, with two different forms of law, from opposite ideologies, being used to control women and their dress. The latest escalation in the enforcement of hijab laws has been met with resistance and protests, with women calling for the obligatory hijab law to be abolished.

The crackdown on women not wearing hijab has been intensified by mass surveillance technologies capable of identifying unveiled women in their cars and pedestrian spaces. The international community has been urged to not stand idly by as the Iranian authorities intensify their oppression of women and girls.
The Islamic dress code, known as hijab, has been mandatory for women since April 1983, and all women are legally obliged to wear hijab in public, regardless of their beliefs or religious affiliation. The crackdown comes just days after supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reiterated that women in the Islamic republic must obey the dress code, regardless of their beliefs.
The history of hijab laws in Iran dates back to the 1920s, when Reza Shah, the then-monarch, prohibited the wearing of hijab for five years as part of his "unveiling" order. However, the hijab was not made legally obligatory until after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, when it became compulsory for all Iranian women to wear hijab in public. The Islamic dress code, which includes the wearing of a headscarf, has been enforced by the government since then, with penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment for those who violate the law.

The hijab issue has been a contentious one in Iran, with two different forms of law being used to control women and their dress over the past 90 years. The first attempt to use hijab as the subject of legislation was in 1936, when Reza Shah wanted to force women to remove the veil in public. From 1941 to 1979, there was no law instructing women what to wear, but many women still wore headscarves either as a statement against the monarchy or because their choices were restricted by cultural norms and family pressure.

After the 1979 Islamic Revolution, hijab became a symbol of political Islam and women's bodies became a battleground between the Islamic state and its opponents. The hijab was made compulsory for all women in public, even for non-Muslims and foreigners visiting Iran. 

Over the years, the Islamic government has introduced more legal measures and social restrictions to enforce the mandatory hijab laws, with criminal punishment for violators introduced in the 1990s.

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