© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Veiled Iranian women attend a rally of conservatives campaigning for upcoming parliamentary elections and the upcoming vote on the Assembly of Experts, in Tehran February 24, 2016. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi/TIMA
(Reuters) – President Ebrahim Raisi said on Saturday the hijab was the law in Iran after a viral video showed a man throwing yogurt at two naked women in a shop near the holy Shiite Muslim city.
A growing number of women have defied authorities by shedding their veils following nationwide protests that followed the death in September of a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman in police custody for allegedly violating hijab rules. Security forces violently suppressed the rebellion.
Judicial authorities in a town near the northeastern city of Mashhad have issued arrest warrants for a man who was seen pouring yogurt over the heads of two women, a mother and her daughter. They were also the subject of arrest warrants for violating Iran’s strict dress codes, state media reported.
Risking arrest for defying the mandatory dress code, women are still often seen naked in malls, restaurants, shops and on the streets across the country. Social networks were flooded with videos of exposed women resisting the moral police.
In remarks live on state television, Raisi said: “If some people say they don’t believe (in hijab)… it’s good to use persuasion… But it’s important that there is a legal requirement… and hijab is a legal matter today .”
Authorities said the dairy store owner, who confronted the attacker, was warned. Reports on social media indicated his shop was closed, although a local news agency quoted him as saying he was allowed to reopen and had to “give explanations” to the court.
Chief Justice Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei earlier threatened to prosecute women who appear naked in public “without mercy,” Iranian media reported.
“Exposure is tantamount to hostility to (our) values,” several news sites quoted Ejei as saying.
Under Iran’s Islamic Sharia law, imposed after the 1979 revolution, women are required to cover their hair and wear long, loose clothing to cover their figures. Violators faced public reprimand, fine or arrest.
Describing the veil as “one of the civilizational foundations of the Iranian nation” and “one of the practical principles of the Islamic Republic”, an Interior Ministry statement on Thursday said there would be no “retraction or tolerance” on the issue.
It called on citizens to confront women without veils. Such directives in past decades have encouraged hardliners to attack women with impunity.
(email@example.com Editing by Frances Kerry and Giles Elgood)