TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran is pressing on with one of its toughest moral crackdowns in years, warning tens of thousands of women over slack dress, targeting “immoral” cafes and seizing illegal satellite receivers, local media reported on Monday.
The Iranian police launched the crackdown in April in a self-declared drive to “elevate security in society” that encompassed arrests of thugs, raids on underground parties and street checks of improperly dressed individuals.
Reza Zarei, commander of police in Tehran province, said that since the drive began police in his region have handed out 113,454 warnings to women found to have infringed Iran’s strict Islamic dress rules.
“Of these 1,600 cases have been given to the judiciary” for further investigation, he said.
He added that 5,700 people — including 1,400 men — have been sent to “guidance classes” on how to behave in society.
Zarei said police have been targeting billiard halls and coffee shops — the latter hugely popular in Tehran as a meeting place for men and women — as certain establishments promoted immorality.
“One of the main grounds for the creation of social and ethical crimes are billiard halls and coffee shops,” he said.
The student news agency ISNA and the Kargozaran newspaper quoted Zarei as saying that police had shut down 3,000 coffee shops and billiard halls although the official IRNA news agency said the establishments had merely been given warnings.
“I am pleased to have carried out this plan to elevate security in society,” Zarei said.
Watching satellite television is illegal in the Islamic republic as it is deemed to spread decadence and has long been the target of periodic crackdowns by the police.
Zarei said police had closed down 68 warehouses selling satellite equipment, seized 27,000 receivers and arrested 535 people linked to the underground industry.
Some reformists in Iran have argued that the authorities would be better off combating poverty or traffic rather than moral laxity but conservatives have applauded the police for seeking to restore revolutionary Islamic values.