Iranian police have announced that they have begun installing surveillance cameras in public places to identify women who are not wearing the hijab, the Islamic veil usually tied around the head and neck to hide their hair. The women with uncovered hair identified in the footage of the cameras will then receive a message to “inform them of the legal consequences of the repetition of this crime”. According to the police, this would help enforce the obligation to wear the hijab in public, which has existed in the country since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
“From next Saturday, people who take off their veils will be identified using smart devices,” Iranian police chief Ahmad-Reza Radan said. People who take off their hijab in public places will first be warned and then reported. Radan added that car owners would also receive a message if one of their passengers violates the hijab law, and that their vehicle could be impounded if the infraction is repeated.
After major protests sparked last year by the death of Mahsa Amini, a young Kurdish woman arrested for violating the hijab law and later died in custody, many Iranian women have stopped wearing the headscarf despite the risk of arrests and fines, especially in larger cities.
It is not uncommon for women who move around public spaces without a veil to be attacked: just last week a video in which a man violently threw a yogurt at two women who did not wear a hijab circulated widely. The two women were later identified and arrested.
– Read also: Brief history of the Islamic veil in Iran
In the police announcement, the veil was described as “one of the foundations of civilization of the Iranian nation”. A few days earlier, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi had reiterated that Iranian women must wear the hijab as a “religious necessity”.
The great and violent repression implemented by the Iranian authorities to stop the protests against the death of Mahsa Amini has progressively decreased marches and demonstrations, which had gone on for several months with an exceptional participation above all of young Iranian women.