April 18, 2018

 Iran’s Interior Minister, Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, has asked the authorities to deal decisively with girls and women who drive without wearing headscarves. Mr. Rahmani Fazli has also ordered the police to prosecute those who violate the “public decency” law. With summer approaching, the government has once again mobilized the “morality police” to enforce the “chastity and hijab” regulations.

These measures run counter to President Hassan Rouhani’s campaign promise to respect the civil rights of citizens. Mr. Rouhani said at the time: “We cannot infringe on people’s rights. No official should arbitrarily change the law and control people either overtly or covertly.” 

Rahmani Fazli has promised more significant government support for “citizen” groups which promote public decency and hijab. He has also called on city councils around the country to support the production, promotion, and sale of “Islamic attires” and regional costumes.

The Islamic Republic has been trying to institutionalize the hijab in the past 40 years without success. The authorities have used various tactics to intimidate female drivers who violate the hijab law, including, but not limited to, sending warning text messages to their mobile phones. Recent steps to enforce the public decency and chastity regulations have not discouraged Iranian girls and women from finding new ways of circumventing the mandatory hijab.

Inspired by the “Girls of the Enqelab Street” movement, many Iranian girls and women have been protesting against the mandatory hijab in recent months. President Rouhani’s government of “Hope and Wisdom” is ignoring the fundamental right of girls and women to chose what they wear. Many of the Iranian girls and women who voluntarily wear the hijab defend the rights of those who don’t wish to wear headscarves or veils.