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Khamenei supports stricter hijab enforcement in Iran

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei finally weighed in on the recent controversy over the country’s enforcement of strict Islamic dress for women.
An Iranian woman holds a poster of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a rally in support of wearing headscarves.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has expressed support for the country’s enforcement of strict hijab laws. 

Speaking about the issues of women and hijab in televised remarks today, Khamenei said, “These issues were present at the beginning of the Islamic Revolution as well, and lately, with using hijab as an excuse, the failed attempt is being repeated.” He continued, “Some years ago I was asked, ‘On the issues of women, what defense do you have against the West?’ and I answered, ‘I don’t have a defense. I have an attack: Those who have turned women into a commodity must defend and give an answer.’”

One of the scenes that has become very familiar this summer in Iran is the country’s notorious Guidance Patrol officers harassing women who are deemed to be improperly covered. Videos of male police officers in uniform and female police officers in the all-black chador forcibly escorting young women into the white and green Guidance Patrol vans have gone viral. In a few instances, onlookers have come to the defense of women and attempted to dissuade police officers from arresting them. These scenes have been widely covered in Western media.

Speaking on the coverage of women’s issues and hijab in the Western press, particularly press funded by the US and British governments, Khamenei said, “The West would cut off water to Iran if they could. The West is the one sanctioning medicine to children. Now they are defenders are women?” While medicine is not technically sanctioned by the West, Iran is unable to conduct banking transactions due to sanctions in order to buy medicine and often needs to go through cumbersome and inefficient routes through third countries to secure medicine. 

Khamenei added, “The reality is that honorable and talented Iranian women are one of the biggest and most important strikes against the claims and lies of Western civilization, and they are very upset about this.” Khamenei said that many in the West claim women cannot progress under Islamic laws, but he says that Iranian women have shown in the last 40 years since the Islamic Revolution that “with hijab and chador Iranian women have progressed in the fields of science, sports, medicine, politics and economics.”   

The crackdowns on those not wearing hijab come at a time of extreme economic hardship in Iran, with inflation soaring and the hopes of a nuclear deal with the West fading. Many Iranians are coming to terms with the fact that with the Biden administration and the Raisi administration, there still will not be a deal that would remove sanctions on Iran. Tough economic times coupled with strict economic dress enforcement have pushed regular Iranians to a boiling point, in turn producing viral videos of ordinary Iranians fighting back against the police.

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