Tehran's fashion police

Iran's fashion police put on a show of chadors to stem west's cultural invasion


Tehran's Imam Khomeini mosque hosted the country's first Islamic dress fair, in which ankle-length manteaus, or overcoats, and all-covering black chadors supplanted the sexually daring styles favoured by European designers. The 10-day event is being organised by Iran's police force along with the commerce ministry and the state broadcasting corporation, IRIB, to promote the idea of women dressing stylishly in line with the values in the Qur'an.

Hundreds of women, most wearing chadors or other forms of conservative dress, browsed an array of outfits, many of which appeared strikingly uniform in their dark colouring and full length. But representatives from the Tehran-based Superior Hijab Production Company modelled a blue chador that departed from tradition by coming with sleeves - solving an age-old practical problem.

The sales pitch was reinforced by a fringe exhibition of quotes extolling the virtue of Islamic hijab. One, from the prophet Muhammad, read: "Any woman with faith in Allah and the resurrection day won't expose her adornments to any man except her husband. Any woman who does these things for other than her husband has betrayed her faith and provoked God's anger."

The exhibition was a response to recent trends among many young Iranian women towards short, tight-fitting manteaus and headscarves pushed back to expose elaborate hair styles. Earlier this year Tehran city council ordered a police crackdown against women whose dress was deemed insufficiently Islamic.

On patrol with Iran's fashion police


It all starts with one simple sentence, spoken almost in a whisper, but which has a thunderous effect.
A female police officer deployed in Tehran's latest moral crackdown tells a woman that her manto (overcoat) is too short and infringes Iranian Islamic dress rules.

"Azizam (my dear), good afternoon, if possible could we have a friendly chat, please allow us to have a small chat," the officer, a graduate of Tehran's police academy, tells the young woman.

"My dear there is a problem with your manto. Please do not wear this kind of manto. Please wear a longer manto from now on."

Some are just let go there, but others are escorted to waiting minibuses with dark black tinted window panes and labelled "Guidance Patrol."

A girl in a short white manto whose long hair was tumbling out the front of her headscarf is taken by the police to one of the minibuses on Vanak Square in central Tehran -- an unexpected and unhappy end to her shopping trip.

Another arrested woman is already inside the bus. She begins to cry. "I promise, I promise!"

And the minibus doors slam shut.

Tehran's police have said they are operating a three stage process in implementing the new wave of a crackdown on dress deemed to be unIslamic, which started with some intensity on Monday afternoon.

Iran: As spring rolls in, so do the religious, dress-code police


The latest crackdown on dress-code violations, which also calls for men to don conservative threads, got started in earnest last weekend. However, this year, angry parents of some of the women who have been apprehended have been "unafraid of making their feelings clear to the police." Notes Agence France Presse: "Even the overall head of the judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, who is appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, urged police against heavy-handed actions.... 'Hauling women and young people to the police station will have no use except to cause damage to society,' the reformist Etemad Melli newspaper quoted Shahroudi as telling a meeting of local governors. 'Tough measures on social problems will backfire and have counter-productive effects,' he warned."

Comments: When religion and state are commingled (not separate), things get messy!

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