Senior Iranian political figure calls for rethink of compulsory hijab law

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As anti-hijab protests engulf Iran, a senior Iranian political figure has called for the re-examination of the enforcement of compulsory hijab law. Ali Larijani, a former speaker of the Iranian parliament, also said that the protests have deep political roots, and are not simply the product of US or Israeli agitation. He said that extremist actions breed extreme response.

In an interview with an Iranian news site, Larijani said, “The hijab has a cultural solution, it does not need decrees and referendums. I appreciate the services of the police force and Basij [paramilitary militia], but this burden of encouraging the hijab should not be assigned to them.”

Also Read | Iran hijab protests show the limits of people power

“Do not doubt that when a cultural phenomenon becomes widespread, rigid response to it is not the cure. The people and young people who come to the street are our own children.”

He also talked of Shah’s rule prior to 1979 saying that back then the hijab was not a compulsion and women wore it out of choice.

Larijani’s comments showcase a divide that has now crept into the the political scene of the country following Mahsa Amini’s death and the consequent protests across the country. The 22-year-old was arrested by Iran’s so-called morality police for not wearing the hijab properly and later died in custody.

Iranian administration and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have blamed western countries for the unrest. Authorities have also been trying to undermine the credibility of Amini’s family. Protesters had called for a mass rally in Tehran on Wednesday. Tehran witnessed violence overnight besides in the Kurdish towns of Sanandaj, Saqez, Bukan and Dehgolan. Many shops also remained shut, while a demonstration led by the Tehran bar association was broken up by security forces.

 

A blockade on the internet has also been imposed to stop people from gathering. The protests have now turned into an anti-government rally and efforts are being made to stop them.

Oslo based Iran Human Rights centre has put the death toll at over 200. Mostafa Tajzadeh, a popular reformist political was also sentenced to eight years in prison for colluding with others against the system. 

(With inputs from agencies)

 

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