Four Iranian models have been arrested for not wearing hijabs, the head coverings worn by Muslim women, after a video was posted online showing them at a fashion store opening.
The event was organized for the opening of a new fashion shop where the owner hired four models to give it a touch of glamour.
But after the video was shown online, a copy of it ended up with police from the Law Enforcement Force of the Islamic Republic of Iran, who arrested all four models and the shop’s owner.
The arrests took place in the city of Mahabad in the northwestern Iranian province of West Azerbaijan on July 11.
The footage shows the models without hijabs smiling at the camera.
Mahabad’s public prosecutor’s office confirmed that five people have been arrested and charged with non-observance of customs and morals, unconventional propaganda, and non-observance of religious norms.
The newly-opened shop is reportedly closed until further notice.
But this isn’t the first time Iranian women have been scrutinized by the law for defying Iranian cultural norms; in Sept. 2018, Hoda Amid, Najmeh Vahedi and Rezvan Mohammadi, three women’s rights activists, were arrested for protesting domestic violence and early marriage.
750 activists signed a public letter demanding the government put a stop to arresting and harassing women’s rights activists and calling for their release.
Also in 2018, New York-based journalist Masih Alinejad was targeted by the Iran government for running a viral page opposing their compulsory hijab laws. She is Iranian-American and was almost kidnapped.
But the mistreatment doesn’t stop at arrests. In jail, conditions are even worse for women.
Kord Afshari, another women’s rights campaigner, was sentenced to 15 years behind bars for removing her hijab in public. She was then transferred to another prison ward known for containing common criminals and harsher conditions. She was allegedly beaten and dragged there.
In late June, two hijab-wearing sisters were attacked by a man with a knife who shouted racial slurs at them in St. Albert, Canada.
In Iran, 27 state agencies enforce the mandatory use of hijab for women in the country.
However, in many cases, Iranian women refuse to accept measures that prevent them from choosing their own clothing. This prompted a crackdown on hijab use.
In September 2019, the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution approved a plan that saw 27 state agencies, including 10 ministries, given powers to enforce the mandatory hijab.
(Edited by Izzy Angeli and Kristen Butler)
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