KL./Iran Cracks Down on Hijab Violations, Sends Cellphone Warnings.

By Natasha Phillips


Iran’s government is stepping up its enforcement of the mandatory hijab and cracking down on women who appear without the compulsory head covering, including in cars, according to a Jan. 1 report by the Fars news agency, which is affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. 

Fars said the government was reinforcing “Operation Nazer 1” (the Persian word for surveillance), a 2020 scheme whereby car owners receive text messages inside their vehicles notifying them of dress code violations and warning them of possible legal action if they are caught unveiled a second time. 

A senior police officer told Fars News that the scheme was now being extended all over the country.

A photograph of a woman receiving one such text message was tweeted on Jan. 1 by Voice of America’s Persian-language news channel.

Iran is in the throes of a nationwide protest movement sparked by the September death of 22-year-old Mahsa (Jina) Amini while she was in the custody of the morality police for an alleged breach of the compulsory hijab laws. Now in their fourth month, the protests have turned into a countrywide call for regime change.

The morality police remains in place despite remarks by Iran’s prosecutor general Mohammad Jafar Montazeri that it had been dismantled. The remarks followed international condemnation for its use of violence against women.

“This is a regime that is threatened and has become more dangerous and ruthless than ever,” said Elika Ashoori, a human rights activist and a recipient of Vogue magazine’s 2022 Forces for Change award.  

“They have resorted to even more extreme arbitrary actions from killing women and children, issuing death sentences, to raping teenage girls in prisons as well as [targeting] various ethnic groups,” Ashoori told Kayhan Life. 

An estimated 516 protesters and bystanders have been killed by Iran’s security forces, including at least 70 children, while 68 security force members have also been killed, according to the latest figures released by the Human Rights Activists News Agency. The agency said more than 19,000 people had been arrested in more than 1,200 protests. 

At least 39 protestors are currently at risk of execution or death penalty sentences, with at least four of those children, according to reports by the Norway-based non-governmental organization Iran Human Rights (IHR) and Human Rights Watch.

“If there is one thing I’ve learned from years of campaigning, is that we must do everything in our power to unite, not just as a nation, but as human beings to stand for justice where there is none,” Ashoori said in a recent Instagram post. 

Elika’s father, the dual national Anoosheh Ashoori, was arbitrarily detained in Iran in 2017 and freed in 2022 as part of a deal which included the release of British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. 

Elika is training for the 2023 London marathon to raise money for Amnesty International, which helped to secure her father’s release.

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