Home iran Prominent Iranian Bookstore Shut Down Over Customers’ Hijab

Prominent Iranian Bookstore Shut Down Over Customers’ Hijab

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Iran’s Police closed down one of the country’s leading bookstores in Tehran on Friday for allowing women without “proper” Hijab to participate in a cultural event.

In a statement posted on its website, Shahr-e Ketab (Book City), a flagship chain bookstore, revealed that the police department in charge of overseeing retail shops, restaurants and similar businesses had sealed its central store in Tehran.

The police cited a “failure to abide by regulations of trade and interior ministry’s [directives]” as the reason for the closure of the popular bookstore in the heart of the capital.

Shahr-e Ketab, Iran’s largest chain of book and music stores, is a non-profit organization that operates dozens of modern bookstore-cafes across the country. In addition to selling books, it holds various cultural events.

“The Book City of Tehran was closed down over a few strands of hair!” Mohammad-Taghi Fazel-Meybodi, a prominent cleric who opposes coercion of women to wear the hijab, said in a tweet Friday. He questioned the religious and legal justification for suspending cultural centers and businesses over such minor issues and criticized the authorities for disgracing the country.

The central branch of Shahr-e Ketab, Iran’s largest chain of book and music stores, in Tehran

Fazel-Meybodi, like many others, also criticized the government for prioritizing the enforcement of hijab rules over addressing more pressing issues such as corruption and economic improvement. He suggested that the money spent on enforcing the compulsory hijab could have been better utilized to combat embezzlement and rising prices.

In recent months, authorities have increased pressure on businesses and retailers to enforce hijab rules and have warned or shut down thousands of businesses.

The closure of businesses for hijab-related issues, a tool used by authorities for four decades, is aimed at pressuring them to police women’s hijab compliance, allowing the police and other authorities to avoid direct confrontation and potential clashes with citizens over hijab observance.

Many among Iranian women are increasingly refusing to wear the hijab even at the risk of being deprived from services in government offices, hospitals, and other public areas or their vehicles being impounded by the police for weeks.

On Friday an airport police official, Mohsen Aghili, said women who do not fully adhere to the “sharia-dictated hijab”, would no longer be served at airports.

After weeks of denial by various officials including the mayor of Tehran and the interior minister, the Secretary of the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council, Abdolhossein Khosropanah, on Friday confirmed that hijab enforcers are indeed organized by the council’s “Hijab and Chastity Taskforce” in coordination with the interior ministry.

Hijab enforcers, uniformed women in black veils, are sometimes accompanied by male plainclothes cameramen who record hijab breaches. They were initially stationed at metro stations in August but are now seen patrolling other public places, such as parks and busy streets, and admonishing women whose appearance does not conform to the dictated hijab rules.

Khosropanah also demanded gender segregation in universities and claimed that “the world has realized that gender segregation in different areas [of society] ensures better performance and security of both genders.”