Iran has ordered police to seize the cars of women who do not wear a hijab in a strengthening of the law that even senior clerics admit will be impossible to enforce.
Despite mass protests over the death of Mahsa Amini, who was beaten to death in the custody of Tehran’s morality police for wearing a hijab incorrectly, the regime is imposing additional laws controlling women’s clothing.
The new measures include a fine equivalent to about £75 for not wearing a hijab, while repeat offenders may see their licence taken away or their car impounded if they are caught without one while driving. A senior cleric charged with implementing the new rules has admitted that further restrictions will be hard to enforce as resistance to mandatory hijabs is so widespread.
“According to this new law, the person who defies the hijab is a criminal and should be arrested, put on trial and fined. However, in view of the large number of people who defy this law, it is not possible to implement it,” Abdulhossein Khosropanah, the secretary of supreme council of the cultural revolution, told Fars news agency, referring to the proposed reform.
Mr Khosropanah, who is otherwise supportive of the reforms, also stressed that the “ancient Islamic laws of the past” would not work in the regime’s “current era”.
As the issue of mandatory hijab continues to dominate public debate in Iran, one leading scholar suggested running a pilot scheme in the city of Shiraz where women could choose whether to wear the hijab, to explore the impact on social tensions.
“I have no doubt that the Islamic republic regime will not be able to defeat the current ‘woman, life, freedom’ movement that has swept our country and it is to its own benefit to take the initiative and abolish the mandatory hijab,” Dr Mohammad Khodayari, a senior lecturer in psychiatry at the University of Tehran, told his students at a public gathering.
An ardent supporter of the hijab as “a religious duty”, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, has previously claimed that the number of women who oppose the mandatory hijab in Iran is “very few and a handful”.
However, an official survey in 2021 found that more than 70 per cent of Iranian women oppose the mandatory wearing of the hijab, which was introduced after the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
According to human rights groups, more than 600 people, among them 72 children, have been killed since the woman, life, freedom protests started.
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