The Telegraph reports that the police chief of the Iranian capital, Tehran, Brig Hossein Sajediniya, has called for a crackdown on fashionable women as part of his campaign against the reformists of the Green Movement. He is quoted as saying,
“The public expects us to act firmly and swiftly if we see any social misbehaviour by women, and men, who defy our Islamic values. In some areas of north Tehran we can see many suntanned women and young girls who look like walking mannequins.”
This sort of talk is not at all new. After a period of liberalization in personal freedoms under President Mohammad Khatami 1997-2005, the new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, began to institute a crackdown on women in 2007.
At that time, retailers reported that they received strict instructions to make their store mannequins less alluring by using hand saws to reduce the size of their breasts. The puritans in Iran seem to have an unhealthy obsession with store mannequins– Sajediniya also referred to them.
This time, the imposition of puritan mores has a political edge. The hard liners see the Green Movement around Mir Hosain Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi as a vehicle for the assertion of foreign, loose morals by the wealthy in North Tehran. Attacking fashionable women is, in Sajediniya’s mind, equivalent to shutting down political reform. It is not true, of course, but then the atmosphere among Iran’s high officials is frankly paranoid.