Iran said on Saturday it was reviewing a decades-old law requiring women to cover their heads as it struggles to quell more than two months of protests related to its dress code.
Protests have swept Iran since the death in custody of Martha Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-born Iranian who was arrested by moral police on 16 September for allegedly ignoring sharia-based laws.
Demonstrators burned their head coverings and shouted anti-government slogans. After Amini’s death, more and more women, especially in the fashionable north of Tehran, have not observed the hijab.
Iran’s Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri said “both the parliament and the judiciary are working[on this issue]” on whether the law needs to be changed.
As quoted by the ISNA news agency, he did not specify what could be amended in the law by the two agencies, which are largely in conservative hands.
Expected results in 1-2 weeks
The review team met with the Congressional Cultural Committee on Wednesday and “we will know the results in a week or two,” the attorney general said.
President Ebrahim Raisi on Saturday said Iran’s republican and Islamic foundations are constitutionally entrenched.
“But there are flexible ways to enforce the constitution,” he said in a televised comment.
In April 1983, four years after the Islamic Revolution that overthrew the US-backed monarchy, the hijab headscarf was made compulsory for all women in Iran.
It remains a very sensitive issue in a country where conservatives say it should be mandatory, while reformers want it to be a personal choice.
After the hijab law became mandatory, clothing norms changed and it became common to see women wearing tight jeans and loose, colorful headscarves.
But in July of this year, the ultra-conservative Raisi called for the mobilization of “all state agencies to enforce the headscarf law.”
But many women continued to bend the rules.
In September, Iran’s main reformist political parties called for the mandatory hijab law to be repealed.
The Islamic Iranian People’s Party coalition, formed by relatives of reformist former president Mohammad Khatami, called on officials on Saturday to “prepare legal elements that pave the way for the withdrawal of the mandatory hijab law.” .
The opposition group also called on the Islamic Republic to “officially announce the end of the Morality Police’s activities” and “allow peaceful demonstrations,” it said in a statement.
Iran has accused its arch-nemesis the United States and allies, including the United Kingdom, Israel and foreign-based Kurdish groups, of fomenting street protests that the government has called riots.
For the first time this week, a general in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said more than 300 people had died in the unrest since Amini’s death.
Iran’s top security agency, the Supreme National Security Council, said on Saturday that the number of people killed during the protests “exceeded 200”.
The figure includes members of the security forces, civilians, “separatists” and “rioters,” the state news agency IRNA said.
At least 448 people have been “killed by security forces in ongoing nationwide protests,” the Oslo-based non-governmental organization Iran Human Rights said on Tuesday.
The arrest campaign has also trapped athletes, celebrities and journalists.
Among the latest to be arrested was movie star Mitra Hajar, who was detained at his home on Saturday, according to the reformist newspaper. Shark.
In addition to human casualties, the Supreme National Security Council said the violence had caused damage worth millions of dollars.