Tehran, April 18 (Reuters): Iranian police said today they would launch a crackdown on “social corruption” such as women flouting Islamic dress codes, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.
“In accordance with the law, the police will confront those who appear in public in an indecent and inappropriate way,” Fars quoted Tehran police chief Morteza Talaei as saying. “Police will seize women with tight coats and cropped trousers.”
Enforcement of strict moral codes governing women’s dress, western music and mingling of the sexes became more lax after President Mohammad Khatami’s election in 1997 on a platform of social and political reform.
But hardliners have been clawing back these concessions since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad swept to power last year with the backing of conservative clerics and the Basij religious forces, who condemn such “un-Islamic” practices.
The Islamic dress code imposed after Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution requires women to cover all their hair and wear long, loose-fitting clothes. Violators can receive lashes, fines or imprisonment.
Analysts said that taking a tough line on social offences could backfire on the government just when it wants support in its standoff with the West over Iran’s nuclear programme.
Mina, a 17-year-old girl with heavy makeup, tight jacket and bright headscarf that barely covered her hair, said she had no intention of changing her style. “They are so busy with international issues, they will have no time to pay attention to my improper dress,” said Mina.