Iran Culture Minister Questioned in Parliament on Female Celebrities’ Red-Carpet Attire

By Azadeh Karimi


Earlier this month, Majlis (Iranian Parliament) deputies questioned Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Abbas Salehi on violations of the hijab law by women artists at movie premieres, public concerts, and other cultural events, Ahmad Salek, the deputy chairman of Majlis’ Culture Committee has said.

“We did not summon anyone. Majlis deputies asked a few questions of the culture minister two weeks ago. I asked him if his deputies informed and consulted him about all their decisions. He did not answer the question, but promised to discuss the issues we raised with his deputies,” Mr. Salek said in an interview with the Tasnim news agency on October 16. “My second question for the minister was about permits for concerts at public venues and incidents of disorderly conduct at these events. Minister said he would ask his deputies to investigate the matter. We hope they follow up on our inquiries.”

[aesop_image img=”” panorama=”off” align=”center” lightbox=”on” captionsrc=”custom” captionposition=”left” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

“Global hegemony has always exploited women for sexual, political, and economic purposes,” Salek noted. “We have seen the impact of liberalism, feminism, and other movements on our society in recent times. Our enemies have been trying to further their aims by promoting liberalism in the country and urging people to challenge the hijab law. They aim to destroy the moral fabric of our nation by encouraging such behaviors. Some film actresses and performers on state TV have been wearing inappropriate clothes and makeups which promote morally corrupt behavior.”

“The Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution recently reformed the Hijab and the Chastity Act to prevent moral corruption in our society,” Salek added. “It is the responsibility of the head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) and the minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance to control these situations.”

Another member of Majlis’ Culture Committee Seyyed Ehsan Ghazizadeh Hashemi has also called on minister Salehi to enforce stricter dress code for actresses at film premieres and cultural events.

“Majlis’ Culture Committee has called on the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and the Iranian Organization of Cinema and Audiovisual Affairs to explain indecent public behavior at recent movie premiers,” Mr. Ghazizadeh Hashemi was quoted of saying by Tasnim news agency. “The problem is that people in the film industry believe that they are above the law and rules do not apply to them. They view everything from a personal perspective, taste, and preference.”

Comments by Ghazizadeh Hashemi and other Iranian officials could be a reaction to recent footage and photographs posted on social media, which shows Iranian actress Matin Sotoudeh on the red carpet at an invitation-only premiere of Homayoun Ghanizadeh’s film “The Clown” (2019) at Tehran’s Espinas Palace Hotel.

“We are drafting a guideline that well-known personalities in sports, arts, and movies must adhere to when making public appearances,” Massoud Najafi, the director of communication for the Iranian Organization of Cinema and Audiovisual Affairs, said during a live telephone link with the state television Channel 3 (IRTV3) talk program “Salam and Sobh Bekheir” (Hello and Good Morning) on October 15. “In recent years, we have urged everyone attending the annual Fajr International Film Festival to wear formal attire as a sign of respect for the prestigious event. The festival would be a success if everyone were to follow the guideline.”

In an interview with the Mehr News Agency in May 2017, Esmat Sepehri, IRIB’s advisor in women’s affairs, said that the organization had drafted a dress code for performers on TV programs.

“We have drafted a new guideline following several requests from people in the film industry. It does not aim to place greater restrictions on the artists,” Mrs. Sepehri said. “Social, ethnic, tribal, and economic conditions and religious and moral values determine how men and women dress in any culture. Everyone must comply with Islamic values and principles in Iran, including the hijab law.”

Footage and photographs of Iranian artists at cultural events and movie premieres who do not adhere to strict dress codes set by the country’s cultural institutions have drawn harsh criticism from some officials in the country.

In previous years, authorities closely monitored the activities of Iranian female artists and performers who attended international festivals. They have now expanded their surveillance and censorship to include various platforms on social media.

[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]