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# Iran
Protest-hit Iran says it is reviewing mandatory headscarf law
Protests have swept Iran since the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by the morality police for allegedly flouting the sharia-based law.

LAST UPDATE | Dec 3rd 2022, 4:30 PM

IRAN HAS SAID it is reviewing a decades-old law that requires women to cover their heads, as it struggles to quell more than two months of protests linked to the dress code.

Protests have swept Iran since the 16 September death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian of Kurdish origin arrested by the morality police for allegedly flouting the sharia-based law.

Demonstrators have burned their head coverings and shouted anti-government slogans. Since Amini’s death, a growing number of women have not been observing hijab, particularly in Tehran’s fashionable north.

“Both parliament and the judiciary are working (on the issue)” of whether the law needs any changes, Iran’s attorney general Mohammad Jafar Montazeri said.

Quoted by the ISNA news agency, he did not specify what could be modified in the law by the two bodies, which are largely in the hands of conservatives.

The review team met on Wednesday with parliament’s cultural commission “and will see the results in a week or two”, the attorney general said.

President Ebrahim Raisi said Iran’s republican and Islamic foundations were constitutionally entrenched.

“But there are methods of implementing the constitution that can be flexible,” he said in televised comments.

The hijab headscarf became obligatory for all women in Iran in April 1983, four years after the Islamic Revolution that overthrew the US-backed monarchy.

It remains a highly sensitive issue in a country where conservatives insist it should be compulsory, while reformists want to leave it up to individual choice.

Hundreds killed
After the hijab law became mandatory, with changing clothing norms it became commonplace to see women in tight jeans and loose, colourful headscarves.

But in July this year Raisi, an ultra-conservative, called for mobilisation of “all state institutions to enforce the headscarf law”.

Many women continued to bend the rules, however.

In September, Iran’s main reformist party called for the mandatory hijab law to be rescinded.

The Union of Islamic Iran People Party, formed by relatives of former reformist president Mohammad Khatami, today demanded the authorities “prepare the legal elements paving the way for the cancellation of the mandatory hijab law”.

The opposition group is also calling for the Islamic republic to “officially announce the end of the activities of the morality police” and “allow peaceful demonstrations”, it said in a statement.

Iran accuses its sworn enemy the United States and its allies, including Britain, Israel, and Kurdish groups based outside the country, of fomenting the street protests which the government calls “riots”.

A general in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps this week, for the first time, said more than 300 people have lost their lives in the unrest since Amini’s death.

Iran’s top security body, the Supreme National Security Council, on Saturday said the number of people killed during the protests “exceeds 200″.

Cited by state news agency IRNA, it said the figure included security officers, civilians and “separatists” as well as “rioters”.

Oslo-based non-governmental organisation Iran Human Rights on Tuesday said at least 448 people had been “killed by security forces in the ongoing nationwide protests”.

UN rights chief Volker Turk said last week that 14,000 people, including children, had been arrested in the protest crackdown.

The Supreme National Security Council said that in addition to the human toll, the violence had caused damage valued at trillions of rials (millions of dollars).

Film star arrested

Iranian film star Mitra Hajjar was arrested at her home today, the reformist newspaper Shargh reported.

“Mitra Hajjar, a film and television actor, was arrested today after a search of her apartment,” said Mehdi Koohian, part of group monitoring arrested artists, Shargh reported.

Thousands of people have been arrested in connection with the protests, including leading figures from the arts, politics and sports.

Last month, Iran arrested actor Hengameh Ghaziani, who expressed solidarity with the protest movement and removed her headscarf in public in an apparent act of defiance, which she filmed and posted on Instagram. Ghaziani has since been released on bail, according to the Tasnim agency.

© AFP 2022

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