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‘War On Women’ Intensifies With Hijab Crackdown In Iran

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Authorities in Iran have launched a fierce battle with Iranian women over the enforcement of mandatory hijab, a struggle that has reignited widespread condemnation of the government’s heavy-handed tactics.

Project Nour, the regime’s new hijab enforcement plan, has seen Iranian authorities escalate their physical efforts to enforce the Islamic Republic’s strict hijab laws. It has led to a surge in violent crackdowns targeting women on Iranian streets.

Earlier this week, Ahmad-Reza Radan, Iran’s Chief of Police and commander of the country’s Law Enforcement Command, announced that the police would continue the “Project Nour” with the support of the parliament, the government, and the judiciary, with “strength and precision.”

In 2010, Radan was sanctioned by the US, EU and the UK for serious human rights violations and his role in the deadly and violent repression of protests during Iran’s 2009 green movement.

As reported by state-run IRIB, Radan thanked his colleagues “who are diligently involved in implementing this plan and are pursuing it with a jihadistic spirit.”

In another significant escalation, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) also announced its participation in the enforcement efforts, forming groups known as “Mehr Ambassadors” to uphold the strict Islamic dress code for women.

A graffiti against the crackdown on women who defy mandatory hijab

Hassan Hassanzadeh, Tehran’s IRGC commander, emphasized that the group’s rigorous training aims to enforce hijab regulations with heightened intensity in public spaces.

Hassanzadeh was sanctioned in 2022 by Western countries for his role in the violent crackdown on nationwide anti-regime protests – often called the Women, Life, Freedom uprising, sparked by the killing of Mahsa Jina Amini in police custody.

Since the launch of the “Nour” project, reports have emerged detailing disturbing instances of police officers extorting money from women in exchange for leniency, alongside allegations of theft and sexual harassment.

The situation has raised alarm both domestically and internationally, with human rights organizations, student groups and prominent activists decrying the Iranian authorities’ violations of basic freedoms and human rights.

Despite the Iranian officials’ scrambling to soften criticism of the hijab crackdown, speeches by Supreme Leader Khamenei and President Ebrahim Raisi triggered a new round of suppression on unveiled women.

The regime’s enforcement campaign has also drawn condemnation from other quarters, including “The Laleh Park Mothers” also known as “Mourning Mothers” – a group of Iranian women whose family members were killed during the 2009 protests.

In their statement, issued on Monday, they condemned the renewed assault on women’s freedoms, accusing the government of resorting to brutality to deflect attention from its failures.

“…with the order of Ali Khamenei with the plan of chastity and hijab in the name of “Nour”, the war against women is more than intense,” the statement read.

Iran analyst and journalist Morad Vaisi posited that the recent efforts are the regime’s attempt to reclaim control over women’s rights, stating, “Women occupied many strongholds in the past years and forced the Islamic Republic to retreat, now the regime wants to take these strongholds back from women. Also, Khamenei has a grudge against women and feels inferior.”