Hijab enforcement groups are to be set up on the Tehran metro and women not wearing the hijab will be refused entry, in effect banning some women from work, Iranian state TV has reported.

The move appears to be part of a pattern of government efforts to force Iranian public bodies to take greater responsibility for enforcing the hijab. Many Iranian women, especially in urban centres, have refused to comply with the hijab rules, in a sign that the “women, life, freedom” protests that began in September continue in a more individualised form.

The latest threatened clampdown comes as girls in secondary schools in Tehran, Karaj and other cities continue to report poison attacks. At least nine schools were reported to have been attacked on Sunday. According to the Iranian MP Mohammad Hassan Asefari, a government fact-finding committee said the security agencies had been unable to identify the perpetrators, while the ministry of health had yet to determine the nature of the poison being used.

The contrast between the urgency of the efforts to enforce the hijab and the inability of investigators to use CCTV to identify those behind the poison attacks has infuriated opponents of the government.

The Tehran Metro Company had already announced that “in line with the demands of the noble people of Iran on the issue of hijab”, it was launching a verbal reminder project in Tehran and suburban metro stations. But the latest pictures on Iran state TV show metro staff barring women trying to pass through the ticket barrier without a hijab.

Masoud Darshti, the chief executive of Tehran and Suburbs Metro Operation Company, had announced the establishment of a chastity and hijab headquarters to issue reminders. He said his staff would be required to implement any police order but added that he had not yet personally received the instruction formally.

Different rules have been deployed in different stations and cities, with instances shown on social media of unveiled women already being barred in cities such as Isfahan.

The government said on Saturday that it planned to install cameras in streets and use existing traffic camera CCTV to detect women not complying with the dress code, and that fines would be imposed.

The police said violators would receive “warning text messages as to the consequences”.

The move due to be implemented from next Saturday was aimed at “preventing resistance against the hijab law”, said the police statement, carried by the judiciary’s Mizan news agency and other state media. It added that such resistance tarnished the country’s spiritual image and spread insecurity.

The judiciary has said it is willing to impose fines of 1m tomans (£19) on women taken to court for not wearing the hijab. Cars in which women are not wearing the hijab would be impounded for 20 days if the car driver has committed the offence twice.

But parts of the clerical establishment are treading carefully, knowing heavy-handed enforcement measures were already unpopular before the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini, a young Kurdish Iranian. Her death led to wider protests about the role of religion and the specialist “morality police” in Iran.

Reflecting the sensitivity of the issue, Hojjat-ul-Islam wal-Muslimin Mohseni Ajei, the head of the judicial system, said on Monday he rejected a uniform approach and that a distinction could be made between women who had not strayed far from the principles of the revolution and those who were under the influence of foreign governments.

The South Khorasan general and revolutionary prosecutor Ali Nesai said on Sunday that it was the responsibility of those living in residential complexes to report cases of women breaking the rules. “If there are people in a building who reject the hijab and advertise this, it should be reported to the police,” he said.

Nesai added: “If people in any of the government and private bodies attempt to remove their hijab, the head of that department is responsible, and if this action takes place in parks, the municipality is responsible, and in universities, that university is also responsible.”

A survey referenced by Abbas Abdi, a well-known reformist columnist, and conducted by the Ministry of Guidance research institute showed 31% of respondents had observed a high number of Iranians not wearing the hijab. It also showed only 10% of the population favoured offenders being fined, 14% favoured a verbal warning, 40% favoured cultural education and 23% said it should be accepted. He said the figures were likely to be distorted given it was an official government survey and the survey base seemed to be biased against those who took their news from foreign satellite channels.

The finding echoes a survey on 22 November by the Blair Institute for Global Change that showed that 78% of respondents aged 20-29, 68% of those aged 30-49 and 74% aged over 50 were against the mandatory imposition of the hijab.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has linked the refusal to wear the hijab to the work of enemies and foreign spies. Under Iran’s Islamic sharia law, imposed after the 1979 revolution, women are obliged to cover their hair and wear long, loose-fitting clothes to disguise their figures. Violators have faced public rebuke, fines or arrest.

An interior ministry statement on 30 March said there would be no retreat on the issue, describing the veil as “one of the civilisational foundations of the Iranian nation” and “one of the practical principles of the Islamic Republic”.

Source » theguardian