If you are wearing the normal hijab, which consists of covering your hair with a scarf and wearing loose cloths to disguise your body contours, this is not adequate anymore based on Iran’s Islamic hijab laws. Instead, you have to wear chador (full black covering), which basically hides a woman completely and makes her disappear.
The dress code for Iranian men is also getting stricter under the presidency of the so-called moderate Hassan Rouhani in comparison to the previous Iranian administration. When I studied in Iran during Ahmadinejad’s presidency, I could not enter the university if I was wearing a normal T-Shirt. I was sent home and suspended several times in my high school for also wearing jeans or shaving my face. As I describe in detail in my memoir, “The Muslim Renegade: A Memoir of Struggle, Defiance and Enlightenment,” Iran’s theocratic obsession of controlling people is getting so extreme that the limited choice of what clothes people wear is getting more limited and personal choice will eventually disappear.
Most recently, Iran has set up a new force of thousands of police called the “veil police.” This governmental force is instituted in addition to the existing moral police and the Protection of Virtue and Prevention of Vice squad. The job of the veil police is to more meticulously enforce Iran’s Sharia and Islamic laws as prescribed by Muhammad, the Quran, Imam Khomeini and Allah.
In other words, for the Islamic Republic, there are different kinds of hijabs. The more the hijab hides who you are, the better it is from their religious perspective. This is a powerful way to completely dominate women by controlling every small decision they make (i.e. wearing cloths) by subjugating them, totally imprisoning them in a garment, and making them disappear from the public eyes.
Not only do the veil police arrest, fine, and imprison those who violate Iran’s Islamic “veil” code, they also allow public services only to those who wear full veil and chador, not the normal hijab.
Hence, if you want to use hospitals, medical clinics, public libraries, government buildings, universities, and so on, you have to wear the full veil (chador), not the normal hijab. Here are recent pictures, posters, and campaigns from Iran ordering women to wear chador, based on the National Council of Resistance of Iran’s Women’s Committee. One of the signs says, “This clinic will serve only women who wear the Chador.” Another reads, “In this cultural place, it is mandatory to observe the Islamic hijab. Women’s entry to the national library with shawls and scarves is forbidden.” The third sign by the Public Relations of the Municipality’s Islamic Council of Chardangeh has pictures of clothes with foreign language writings on them and a message saying, “My sister, these types of clothing are not suitable for Muslim women.”
The government of Iran’s desire to control people is insatiable and cannot be satisfied. There is no end to how much Iran’s religious authorities are determined to control people’s bodies. First, they force women to wear scarves, then to wear loose clothes, then not to speak in public, then not to smile, then not have fun at all, then to wear chador, then not to leave house, and so on.
On the other hand, the amount of misinformation in the mainstream media is high. You are most likely being repeatedly told that Iran is becoming more moderate, that there are no mandatory rules regarding the religion of Islam, and that there is a specific verse in Quran saying that people are free to choose their own religion. Well, this is exactly what we were taught as kids in school. But once these religious leaders get enough supporters and take control over the political establishment, then the story changes.
The founding cleric of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei, famously said before the Islamic Revolution, “When it comes to the wearing of the veil, there will be no compulsion.” In a picture that went viral, the niece of Iran’s jailed Green Movement leader, Mir Hussein Moussavi, wore a scarf with newspaper headlines from 1978 of Khomeini’s promises before he came to power. He gave many promises and pledges while living in Paris. After the revolution, Khomeini flip-flopped, ignored the public and stated, “I said many things in Paris.” This is what has happened with other Islamic leaders who have made similar promises, such as with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The mainstream media outlets do not have access to inside Iran, but they still tell you authoritatively that even if you hear undemocratic news from Iran, this is not the fault of Iran’s president. This is inaccurate based on the facts on the ground.
Hassan Rouhani has the legal and presidential power to stop abusive veiling policies. He can also speak up against it. But why would he if he is benefiting from the corrupt system? In fact Rouhani wrote in his memoir that he was very proud of being in charge of enforcing hijab at the beginning of the revolution. During those times, many women were knifed, raped, beaten to death, executed and put in prison for violating the hijab code. This trend continues as Iran moves towards more extremism and insists on gender discrimination in violation of the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights.