TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iranian police have warned 122,000 people, mostly women, about flouting strict Islamic dress codes since April and nearly 7,000 of those attended classes on respecting the rules, a newspaper said on Thursday.
Such crackdowns, on the women as well as on men deemed to have haircuts considered too Westernized, are an annual event and usually last a few weeks. But this year’s measures have been longer and more severe than in recent years.
Some government critics see the crackdown as part of broader measures to quash dissent in the media and other areas. Others see it as part of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s efforts to revive values from the early days after the 1979 revolution.
“Since the beginning of the crackdown from Ordibehesht (the Iranian month that started in April), 122,000 people have been given a warning for improper dress and 6,947 of them have taken part in guidance classes,” the daily Jomhuri-ye Islami reported.
Some women, particularly in cities during the hot summer months, test the boundaries of the dress codes requiring a woman’s hair to be covered and the shape of her body to disguised by a loose coat by wearing skimpier outfits.
The conservative newspaper, quoting a Tehran police commander, Reza Zaraei, said 2,422 people were detained. It was not immediately clear what happened to those detained, but in the past some had been held for a few hours.
Barbers have been told not to offer Western-style haircuts, including spiked hair, or plucking eyebrows. Iran’s conservative politicians regularly rail against the “immoral” influence of the West on Iran and its culture.
Zaraei said 80,000 bottles of liquor, banned in the Islamic Republic, were also seized.
He said 482 people were arrested for taking part in mixed parties. Men and women are not allowed to mix at close quarters in Iran, unless they are family members.