Shocking video footage of a young woman being wrestled to the floor by Iranian “morality police” because her hijab was loose has sparked outrage after it was posted online.
The footage shows members of the special taskforce tackling the woman, believed to be in her mid-20s, in Tehran. Under Iranian law, it is compulsory for women to cover themselves from head to toe in public, but many defy the boundaries by wearing loose hijab that shows their hair.
The video shows two young friends, one wearing a maghnaeh (similar to a nun’s cowl) and the other wearing a loose headscarf that reveals part of her hair. The latter is verbally cautioned, before a female police officer slaps her in the face and wrestles her to the floor. The young woman is heard screaming repeatedly: “Let me go, let me go.”
Within hours of the video going viral, Iran’s minister of interior, Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazil, ordered an inquiry, according to an official statement that called the incident “an unusual treatment of a woman at the hands of the morality police”.
The statement insinuated that the young woman had provoked the police by swearing at them when they asked her to respect the law. But it said the reaction of the police was also “unconventional”.
Masoumeh Ebtekar, Iran’s vice-president for women’s affairs, denounced the treatment of the young woman on Twitter. “How could this treatment be justified?” she tweeted. “Even if they were insulted, should the police react like this? I categorically condemn this behaviour and will pursue the matter. This is a harsh and anti-religious treatment that no human deserves.”
The footage shows one of the young women threatening the police with legal action, to which an officer can be heard responding: “You can’t do a damn shit.”
The incident, which happened on Wednesday, emerged a few months after scores of women staged protests across Iran in which they climbed on to telecom boxes, took off their headscarves and waved them aloft on sticks. The Guardian understands that the two women in the video were not out in public protesting, but celebrating a birthday.
The video was posted on Instagram by Masih Alinejad, a US-based Iranian activist behind a number of campaigns fighting the compulsory wearing of the hijab, and has been viewed more than 1.6m times. Her post drew more than 21,700 comments in half a day. “The video broke my heart,” commented one user.
“People are angry because such mistreatments are happening over and over again. People have lost their hope because the morality police acts with impunity in the name of law,” Alinejad told the Guardian.
According to the information Alinejad has received, the victim became so frail after being wrestled that the forces did not take her to the police station, but arrested a couple who had intervened on their behalf.
Alinejad said: “People in Iran can’t fathom this and demand how in the 21st century, someone can be beaten because of her hair. That’s why after all these years such treatments take people by surprise and cause public shock.”
Not every woman wearing a hijab in Iran does so under pressure, but millions are against it being obligatory, which has been an integral policy of the Islamic republic ever since the 1979 revolution. Iran’s moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, has made clear that his administration is against enforcing the law so harshly, but his powers are limited when it comes to the conduct of the police, who are under the influence of the unelected faction of the Iranian establishment.
In February, Iran said it had arrested 29 women accused of being “deceived” into joining the telecoms box protests. Many are still in jail and some have been given lengthy prison terms.
Source » Theguardian