Demonstrations in Iran: the authorities want to review the law on wearing the veil
The Iranian authorities on Saturday asked the courts and Parliament to review a 1983 law on the compulsory wearing of the veil in order to find a solution to the protest movement which has left hundreds dead for two months and a half.
Iran has faced daily protests since the September 16 death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurd arrested three days earlier by vice squad for violating the Islamic Republic's dress code, which specifically requires women to wear the veil in public.
Since then, Iranian women have spearheaded protests, and some have defiantly removed and burned their scarf.
On Saturday, the Attorney General of Iran, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri, announced that “Parliament and the judiciary were working” on the issue of compulsory veiling, without specifying what could be changed in the law, especially since the ultra-conservative president, Ebrahim Raïssi, imposed new dress restrictions this summer.
This is a highly sensitive issue in Iran, on which two camps clash: that of the conservatives who are bracing themselves on the 1983 law making it compulsory to wear the veil and that of the progressives who want to leave women the right to choose whether or not to wear it.
The veil became compulsory in Iran four years after the 1979 Islamic revolution. orientation), was created to “spread the culture of decency and the wearing of the veil”.
According to a law in force since 1983, Iranian and foreign women, regardless of their religion, must wear a veil and loose clothing in public.
And since July 5, a law “on the veil and the chastity of the country”, put in place by President Raisi, imposes new restrictions on women. The obligatory scarf must cover, in addition to the hair, the neck and the shoulders.
But during a press conference on Saturday in Tehran, the head of state seems to have opened the door to possible changes: “Our constitution has solid and immutable values and principles […], but there are methods of implementing the Constitution that can be changed,” he said.
Since the death of Mahsa Amini and the protests that followed, a growing number of women bared their heads, especially in the upscale north of Tehran.
On September 24, a week after the start of the protests, the main reform party of Iran urged the state to rescind the headscarf requirement.
The People's Union of Islamic Iran, formed by relatives of former reformist President Mohammad Khatami (1997-2005), said it “demands” from the authorities that they “prepare the legal elements opening the way to the cancellation of the law on the wearing of the compulsory veil”, according to a press release published at the end of September.
This formation, which is not in power, also demands that the Islamic Republic announce “officially the end of the activities of the morality police” and “authorize peaceful demonstrations”, adds the text.
Iran, which sees most of the demonstrations as “riots”, notably accuses foreign forces of being behind this movement to seek to destabilize the Islamic Republic.
A total of 448 protesters were killed across the country since the start of the movement, according to the Norway-based NGO Iran Human Rights (IHR).
The Supreme National Security Council said on Saturday that “more than 200 people” including civilians and security forces had been killed in two and a half months of protests. On Monday, General Amirali Hajizadeh, of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, told him more than 300 dead.
Thousands of people have been arrested since the beginning of the movement. On Saturday, a new film actress, Mitra Hajjar, was arrested at her home. She recently posted a video on her Instagram account about protests in October in Berlin in support of the movement in Iran.