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Iran steps up hijab crackdown on women, shuttering businesses

In Iran's capital Tehran, some 150 such shops have been forced to close by authorities in the past two weeks alone. 
A woman walks past a mural in the Iranian capital Tehran, on October 11, 2022. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP) (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)

TEHRAN — Iran's authorities have expanded their crackdown on violations of the country's controversial hijab laws, targeting shopping centers and private businesses that allow women customers without headscarves.  

One business after another is being sealed off by the police over the issue. The closure is in many cases temporary, but only if the business owner signs a commitment not to repeat the violation, and/or pay a fine. 

In the capital Tehran, according to the state-run IRNA News Agency, some 150 shops have been forced to close by authorities in the past two weeks alone, affecting everything from pharmacies and clothing stores to cafes and restaurants. The authorities closed down the Opal Mall entirely this week, leaving nearly 1,000 people jobless at the major shopping center in Tehran's affluent northwest. 

"If you are adamant that women should dress only as you wish, why do shop owners have to act as your enforcers?" wrote economic analyst Mohsen Jalalpour in a ferocious critique on his Telegram account. Jalalpour questioned the closures at a moment when private businesses are already struggling amid Iran's ailing economy. "It is a lose-lose situation for the businesses," he maintained, arguing that they would face boycotts for barring customers over the dress code.  

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