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Iranians Worried By ‘War Against Women’ More Than Israel Conflict


Traffic analysis on X reveals that Iranians have significantly tweeted more about the recent escalation of the hijab crackdown than about the heightened tensions between Iran and Israel.

Iranian media Thursday widely reported that the number of Persian tweets about tensions with Israel rose to nearly 6,000 on Tuesday when less than 2,000 users tweeted about the hijab crackdown.

On Wednesday, however, after a host of videos of harsh treatment of women and violent arrests by the morality police emerged on social media, tweets about hijab rose to around 7,000 and those addressing the tension with Israel dropped to a little over 2,000.

The violence used against women, in the past few days has angered many Iranians from every walk of life including those who support or praise Iran’s missile attack against Israel last weekend as retaliation for Israel’s strike on the Iranian embassy in Damascus on April 1.

“Israel says it wants to attack but hardliners in Tehran have deployed the morality police battalions and are shutting down coffee shops like a dominos,” Mostafa Faghihi, chief editor of the conservative Asr-e Iran news website tweeted. Calling those responsible for the crackdown against women “ignorami” who fight Iranian women instead of Israel.

In the hours leading up to Saturday’s missile and drone strike on Israel by the IRGC, Iran’s morality police intensified their efforts against unveiled women. Additionally, Iranian authorities initiated crackdowns on media and social media activists.

The police force’s infamous “guidance patrols”, often referred to as the “morality police”, have returned to the streets, Tehran’s metro stations, and other cities across the country in full force, to enforce the Islamic dress code.

The patrols consisting of male and female uniformed police personnel as well as plainclothes agents have arrested hundreds of women and in at least dozens of cases women the arrests, as videos and reports on social media attest, were very violent.

Iran International has spoken to several women who say they were assaulted, verbally abused, and sexually harassed by arresting morality police officers and plainclothesmen who helped them.

One of the detainees, a 17-year-old girl, recounted to Iran International her violent arrest at Tehran’s Daneshjoo Park. She described police officers pulling her hair, striking her arms and thighs with a baton, and directing sexual slurs at her. Moreover, she stated that women who resisted arrest, mostly very young, were assaulted by an officer while in the police van.

A 19-year-old woman who was also arrested violently told Iran International that at a detention center plainclothes officers tased her in the stomach and genitals, hurled sexual profanities at her and her family members.

Both females were forced to provide full details about themselves and their family members, including their phone numbers before being released.

Citizen reports on social media also allege that many girls detained by the morality police were minors as young as twelve years old.

During his election campaign, President Ebrahim Raisi had promised to clampdown on government officials for inefficiency and corruption instead of the so-called “[Moral] Guidance Patrols” for hijab.

“Khamenei acknowledges the increasing courage of Iranians in challenging the ruling establishment’s beliefs and imposed red lines,” said Omid Aghayari, a journalist and political analyst based in Turkey. “He refers to the ‘imposed challenge of hijab’ and, in a play on words, disguises his aggressive stance towards society as a form of defense,” Aghayari told Iran International.

Authorities say they are fighting against behavior that is “against the society’s norms” but what they refer to as abnormality is in fact the lifestyle that people have chosen and is completely normal for most Iranians, Aghayari added.

“With the summer approaching, when more women shed their long headscarves, and the anniversary of the Woman, Life, Freedom movement drawing near, the hijab challenge is likely to intensify in the coming months, too,” he said.