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Iran reviewing decades-old mandatory hijab law amid protests

India Today logo India Today 04-12-2022 India Today Web Desk
Iran reviewing decades-old mandatory hijab law amid protests © Provided by India Today Iran reviewing decades-old mandatory hijab law amid protests

Iran has said that it is reviewing a decades-old mandatory hijab law that requires women to cover their heads, amid over two months of protests linked to the dress code.

Protests have swept Iran since the September 16 following the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian of Kurdish origin in custody after being arrested by the morality police for allegedly flouting the Sharia-based hijab law.

Protesters have burned their head coverings, shouted anti-government slogans and tossed turbans off Muslim clerics' heads. since Mahsa Amini's death, a growing number of women have not been observing hijab, particularly in Tehran's fashionable north.

"Both parliament and the judiciary are working (on the issue)" of whether the law needs any changes, Iran's attorney general Mohammad Jafar Montazeri was quoted as saying by news agency AFP. 

READ | 'Death to dictator': Schoolgirls in Iran remove hijabs as they take up baton against govt

Quoted by the ISNA news agency, he did not specify what could be modified in the law by the two bodies, which are largely in the hands of conservatives.

The review team met on Wednesday with parliament's cultural commission "and will see the results in a week or two", the attorney general said.

President Ebrahim Raisi on Saturday said Iran's republican and Islamic foundations were constitutionally entrenched.

"But there are methods of implementing the constitution that can be flexible," he said in televised comments.

ALSO READ | Iranian security forces target university campuses as anti-hijab protests swell

The hijab headscarf became obligatory for all women in Iran in April 1983, four years after the Islamic Revolution that overthrew the US-backed monarchy.

It remains a highly sensitive issue in a country where conservatives insist it should be compulsory, while reformists want to leave it up to individual choice.

A general in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps this week, for the first time, said more than 300 people have lost their lives in the unrest since Mahsa Amini's death.

ALSO READ | What the Iranian anti-hijab protest unveiled

Iran's top security body, the Supreme National Security Council, on Saturday said the number of people killed during the protests "exceeds 200". Cited by state news agency IRNA, it said the figure included security officers, civilians and "separatists" as well as "rioters".

Oslo-based non-governmental organisation Iran Human Rights on Tuesday said at least 448 people had been "killed by security forces in the ongoing nationwide protests".

UN rights chief Volker Turk said last week that 14,000 people, including children, had been arrested in the protest crackdown.

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