It just wouldn’t be summer without the “Modesty Guard” corps. By Dudi Cohen for Ynet News:
Iran has announced the launch of “Operation Cover-up” next week in attempt to control young men and women who have deviated from the country’s Islamic dress codes and adopted “too Western” an appearance.
Deputy commander of the Iranian police force warned women that “the police will operate against women who dress like models in town. Women that are arrested will be taken to four centers, where they will receive guidance and advice. They will commit in writing not to dress in violation of the dress code again, and they will be released only after their families come to pick them up and bring them proper attire.”
According to Iranian law, women must wear the hijab head covering, a veil to hide women’s hair which constitutes a symbol of female modesty in Islam.
Each year the Iranian administration announces an “Operation Cover-up” ahead of summer, when the weather warms up and sleeves start getting shorter. The rest of the year, the “Modesty Guard”, made up of a volunteer staff, patrols the streets and comments to women who do not maintain a sufficiently modest appearance.
In addition to the hijab, Iranian women are required to wear a long coat to conceal any trace of the outline of their figure.
In spite of the strict dress code, in recent years many women in Iran, especially in the larger cities, have been testing the limits and overlooking the laws, in particular regarding the head covering. Many women can be seen in Tehran’s streets letting more and more hair out from under their head scarves and donning shorter, hip-length jackets and tight-fitting shirts.
The Islamic dress code also applies to non-Islamic women, as well as to tourists visiting Iran.
And not only women need be concerned, but men as well. The Tehran police commander announced that “the first phase of the operation, which starts on Saturday, will focus on women. The second phase will also deal with men who dress inappropriately.”
Short pants, T-shirts with “harmful slogans” and chains with “certain ornamentation” are included in the list of forbidden male attire.
The goal of the operation, according to Tehran police, is to ensure “moral behavior in society.”
The election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June, 2005, raised expectations that the new administration would exhibit stricter determination in enforcing public dress codes.
Despite this, there have been no signs of a change of policy, and the government has noted on multiple occasions that it prefers to encourage the public to dress according to Islamic values in manners that avoid the use of force.
It would rather not use force, but clearly won’t rule it out.