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Esfandiari adds in her blog that mandatory, and forcible, wearing of the hijab is the main reason young women want to leave Iran. She states that for many of them, “the hijab feels like a burden, an insult, a limitation of their freedom and attempt to keep them under control.” Rather than being a “protection” for society, as the official line goes, many feel it is simply “an insult.” And then there is the problem of the virtue police and their dehumanizing behavior towards women.
“Women being mistreated by the police because of their hijabs have become a common scene on the streets of the Iranian capital and other cities, especially during the hot summer months when the hijab crackdown intensifies,” Esfandiari states.
In an interview with the German newspaper Die Welt, Esfandiari said women in Iran now argue frequently with the morality police when they are told that they are insufficiently covered or are “bad hijab,” as the offenders are called.
“Many women, especially north of Tehran, would protest against the strict clothing laws while wearing small, colourful shawls, very tight jeans and make-up too,” said Esfandiari who, the German newspaper says, now lives in Washington and cannot return to Iran because of her work as a journalist.
The physical assault against the cleric in Shamirzad was not the only one reported by Mehr. The news agency revealed that clerics had been attacked in at least three other instances, including one against “a representative of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khomeini.” The news agency does not say whether the clerics’ assailants were women, but does state “they have all been beaten up for performing their religious duty of [commanding right and forbidding wrong] and in some cases sustained irreparable damage.”
In her Die Welt interview, Esfandiari says she is unable to account for the increase in assaults on clerics or whether they represent a trend. What surprises her most, however, is not the fact that there has been more than one attack on clerics but rather that the attacks are being reported at all and by a semi-official news agency at that.
“Normally,” Esfandiari recounted, “one learns about such incidents not in the state media; one hears about them by word of mouth.”
Despite saying he had experienced “the worst days of his life,” Beheshti wants to drop the matter. The police, however, think differently and are investigating. The prosecutor calls the case “a public beating,” which it most certainly was. But Esfandiari points out with clarity the hypocrisy of the state’s position:
“Of course when the same type of incident is reversed – a ‘badly veiled’ woman being beaten in public by police – it’s simply a necessary enforcement of the dress code.”
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