Iran Renews Violent Crackdowns on Compliance With Hijab Laws

AP Photo/Francisco Seco

The morality police in Iran sometimes lay low for a while as women protest mandatory hijab laws. They have begun their reign of terror against women again. 


Here is a young woman who was arrested on the street and shoved into a police vehicle.

Here is another Iranian woman three days later having a seizure as she is harassed by the morality police. An eyewitness said that officers violently confiscated the woman's mobile phone and purse because she was not wearing a headscarf.

You can only imagine their fear. Once they are grabbed and taken off to jail, they may soon die in custody. That is what happened to student Mahsa Amini in September 2022. She was rounded up and arrested for not properly covering her head in public. She was beaten and jailed. She soon died from her injuries. Then the "Woman, Life, Freedom" protest movement began as Iranian women and girls said enough is enough. Men soon joined them. 


It took President Biden over a year to make a statement about the treatment of women in Iran. Remember when Biden ran for president and told voters that he is so good on women's issues? Yeah. Good times. Women's issues are human rights issues. Joe Biden is feckless when it comes to Iran. Biden is both naive and cowed when it comes to Iran.

After Biden's disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, it soon became apparent that he was viewed as weak on the world stage. The Iranian leadership has been acting out with impunity ever since. Feminists in Western countries have largely remained silent. The message is that Iranian women and girls should just fend for themselves.

The older sister of Nika Shakarami has been arrested, allegedly for not covering her hair, said her family. Nika was a 16-year-old girl who was killed during an anti-government protest in 2022. 

Aida Shakarami, 22, was accused of "not adhering to compulsory hijab" by morality police in Tehran on Wednesday, her mother Nasrin wrote on Instagram.

"She remains in custody," she added.

The police have not commented, but it comes after they launched a crackdown on breaches of the Islamic dress code.

Tehran's police chief said on Saturday the new initiative would "confront social taboo-breaking over hijab and chastity and those who seek to expressly contravene hijab rules" - a reference to the many women and girls who have defiantly stopped covering their hair in public.


Authorities told her family that Nika died from suicide but allegedly her death was from the blows to her head she sustained. 

On 20 September 2022, Nika was filmed at a protest in Tehran setting fire to her headscarf, while other protesters chanted "death to the dictator" - a reference to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

She disappeared that evening after telling a friend that she was being chased by police. Her family eventually found her body at a mortuary 10 days later.

On Sunday, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) troops announced that a new enforcement body has been formed to uphold Iran's strict dress code for women.

IRGC Tehran chief Hassan Hassanzadeh said that the morality police have been trained to enforce laws about the wearing of the hijab "in a more serious manner" in public. This announcement followed stories about the morality police intensifying arrests in recent days.

The new operation has a name - it is codenamed Nour, or Light in Persian. Ugh. 

The protests have mostly stopped. There has been a deafening silence from the Western world when it comes to the budding women's rights movement in Iran. 

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Narges Mohammadi said the women's stories will be heard

"Today, the authoritarian theocracy has drawn a full-fledged war against all women on all streets of the country, not out of a position of power but out of desperation," Mohammadi said from Tehran's Evin prison, according to an audio message posted on April 21 on an Instagram page attributed to her.

The message said that journalist Dina Ghalibaf, who was arrested earlier this month after she published a personal narrative about her previous detention by Iran’s morality police for not adhering to the hijab law, entered the women's ward in Evin prison "with a bruised body and a narrative of sexual harassment."

Mohammadi added that Iran for years has been witnessing "the narrative of women who have been subjected to abuse, harassment, and mayhem by government officials. We women will stop this war ...or the people of Iran and the world will rise up to our aid."


 The worsening conditions for women in Iran may not be entirely the fault of President Biden but his weakness on the world stage and his silence in support of Iranians fighting for basic human rights have certainly played a role in it. 

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