Rome, 27 April (AKI) – One week after police started enforcing strict new Islamic dress code rules, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Friday that his opponents were manipulating the moralization campaign so as to create discontent. “Our enemies want a limited group of people, mostly youth, to hit the streets dressed in a vulgar manner to provoke police intervention and then use against our country the bad feelings of young people who have been mistreated by security officials,” said the president.
The country’s top police officer announced on Thursday that some 150,000 women ave been detained in Iran over the past week for violating strict new Islamic dress code rules.
“During the first four days [since the code came into effect] we have picked up 150,000 women who were not properly veiled, but many of them were released after they signed an admission of guilt and a formal apology,” General Ismail Ahmadi Moghaddam said Thursday. An unspecified number of the women taken into custody were also forced to undergo psychological counseling, Moghaddam said.
“Only 13 of these women are still being held and they will have to stand trial,” he explained.
Some prominent politicians have criticised the government and the security forces for the way the matter has been handled.
Some papers in Tehran ran articles recalling how the president had promised not to meddle into the dress codes of young Iranians during the electoral campaign leading to his June 2005 presidential election.
“Young men dressed Western style and women not covered well by the veil are not a problem in a country with much more serious problems,” Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying at the time.
The moralization campaign was at the centre of most sermons at Friday prayers.
The leader of Tehran’s prayer on Friday, ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, praised the new rules saying that “in the past week the great majority of the population has felt more secure and protected by police. Anyone criticizing police will attract the ire of the
The head prosecutor of Tehran, Saiid Mortazavi, the magistrate who banned dozens of papers and is suspected of a role in the murder of Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi, during questioning said: “These women who infest our streets by dressing like vulgar models must be considered criminals as they threaten the security and decensy [sic] of our youth.”
Mortazavi stressed that “offending Islam’s sense of modesty is a crime to be [punished] with detention” under Iran’s criminal law.