Some Iranians are facing the wrath of the country's "morality police" for dressing in ways they deem aren't Islamic enough, usually because they're pairing their traditional hijabs with stylish jeans or a fancy jacket.
State media reported Iranian police raided 87 coffee shops on Saturday and arrested women for un-Islamic dress. "These places were shut for not following Islamic values, providing hookah to women, and lacking proper licenses," said Tehran police official Alireza Mehrabi, according to the report. Police are apparently targeting local coffee shops and internet cafes because they're jumped in popularity with young people. According to this Washington Post report, the rift between youngs and old has been ramping up for some time now, and has led to a recent crackdown from the morality police:
In recent weeks, 53 coffee shops and 87 restaurants have been closed in Tehran for serving customers with improper hijab or for other gender-related offenses, such as permitting women to smoke hookah pipes. Concerts have been abruptly canceled because of inappropriate dress and too much contact between male and female fans. Approximately 80 stands at an international food fair were closed last month because, officials said, the women working at them were either breaking hijab rules or wearing too much makeup.
According to Iranian law, women must be covered at all times in a hijab. Lately, though, some women have been bolder with their interpretations of the law. They're struggling to find a middle ground between covering themselves according to tradition, while incorporating fashionable, trendy pieces with their outfits. One girl who spoke to the post was arrested recently for wearing a jacket morality police decided was too short.
The debate basically centers around the idea that the more liberal, fashionable dress is in some way against Iranian culture, and it promotes more Western ideas. Even Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad thinks the police are getting a bit overzealous with their crackdown on the dress code, though. He recently spoke out against the enforcement, arguing that "instead of closing cinemas and restaurants, must give people the right to choose. If people are given choices, they will definitely choose Iranian culture and beliefs." The debate's gone so far that one of his political opponents accused him of promoting "sexual intrigue" instead of more traditional, conservative Iranian values.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.