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Iranians pushing boundaries in 'private sphere' debate

Debate over the extent and nature of the private versus the public heats up again in Iran, highlighting the continued evolution of demands for social freedoms.
An Iranian couple walks in the sea in the Caspian Sea port city of Mahmoud Abad, in northern Mazandaran province on June 16, 2016.
 / AFP / ATTA KENARE        (Photo credit should read ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)

Every now and then, Iranian media outlets are full of news and analysis about the boundaries between the “private” and “public” spheres. The most recent episode began July 7, when Mohammad Tarahomi, legal affairs traffic police deputy, announced that personal vehicles are not considered a “private sphere” and are thus subject to all public regulations, including mandatory veiling. The trunk and glove compartments of personal cars are, however, considered private spaces, because their interiors are not visible and therefore not subject to random police inspections.

The matter of what constitutes private versus public is not just an obsession of the police. Experts from a range of disciplines, including grand ayatollahs, lawyers, political analysts and lawmakers, all publicly express their views and advocate their perspectives on the matter. It is within this context that the quest for privacy has given rise to a mushrooming of privately managed residential complexes, especially in the Caspian Sea resorts in the northern provinces of Mazandaran and Gilan.

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