But this year, the stakes are unusually high. As Iranian leaders attempt to deflect the public’s attention from economic woes spurred by crushing foreign sanctions, they risk alienating large segments of a society that is already deeply divided.
Mandatory female covering known as hijab has been a defining element of Iran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Although the laws regarding proper cover haven’t changed, some women have grown bolder in interpreting the limits of what they can wear, creating a conflict that inevitably flares each summer as temperatures climb.
The government’s offensive this year has been marked by the stationing of mixed-gender teams of morality police in Tehran’s main squares.
In recent weeks, 53 coffee shops and 87 restaurants have been closed in Tehran for serving customers with improper hijab or for other gender-related offenses, such as permitting women to smoke hookah pipes. Concerts have been abruptly canceled because of inappropriate dress and too much contact between male and female fans. Approximately 80 stands at an international food fair were closed last month because, officials said, the women working at them were either breaking hijab rules or wearing too much makeup.
Those arrested face up to two months in prison or even lashing, penalties that have been on the books for years but have rarely been imposed. The aggressive enforcement and stiff penalties have spawned resentment.
Iran’s sex cops have this weird belief that uncovered hair releases “sex rays” that drive men wild. One of the strange beliefs of the Islamic religious bigots is that men are not responsible for their conduct when it comes to an impulse to make a sexual assault. That is why they have requirements that women wear funny clothes. In some Islamic countries operations are required on girls to remove their cliterous because of a belief that women can control their impulses if sex feels good. Both attitudes assume a lack of responsibility on the part of people for their own conduct.
Most Iranian women are smart enough to know what the ayatollahs are pushing is nonsense. They are trying to adapt to their unfortunate circumstances. We should find ways to help them. The problem is that too many in this country fear offending those who push these ridiculous requirements. Political correctness is getting in the way helping the victims of the Iranian sex cops.