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Source: RFE/RL

Jul 27, 2023

Iran Files Case Against Online Retailer Over Failure To Enforce Hijab Rules

By RFE/RL's Radio Farda

The publication of photos of Taghcheh's female employees not wearing the compulsory hijab led to an outcry among some sections of society.

Iranian media outlets reported on July 27 that a legal case has been filed against the online book retailer Taghcheh because its female employees failed to observe the compulsory hijab law as the government continues to tighten its enforcement of dress code regulations.

The announcement of the case came hours after Mohammad Mehdi Esmaeili, Iran's minister of culture and Islamic guidance, issued a warning that decisive action against start-ups like Taghcheh, which are licensed by his ministry, would be enforced if they fail to observe rules regarding hijabs and chastity.

The publication of photos of Taghcheh's female employees not wearing the compulsory hijab led to an outcry among some sections of society, with the Fars news agency, which is affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), launching a campaign against the company.

This was followed by reports that government publishing institutions had ended their collaboration with Taghcheh, with some demanding legal action against the group.Islamic Revolution Publications, linked to the office that publishes the works of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has also ceased its cooperation with Taghcheh, while some pro-government Twitter users have called for further sanctions against the company, including blocking its software applications.

The actions are part of a wider government campaign to ratchet up enforcement of the compulsory hijab, which has also seen the closure of several commercial, recreational, and professional units amid allegations they have failed to comply.

Digikala, Iran's largest online store, faces a legal case due to the attire being worn by its female employees.The moves prompted a U.S. State Department spokesperson to say on July 24 that “the regime will stop at nothing to control the women and girls of Iran.

”Anger over the suppression of human rights, and women's rights in particular, has boiled over since last September when 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died while in police custody.

She was being held for an alleged violation of the hijab law, which makes it compulsory for women and girls over the age of 9 to cover their heads when out in public.While the protests appear to have waned slightly in recent months, resistance to the hijab remains strong as it is seen now as a symbol of the state's repression of women and the deadly crackdown on society.

The wave of government intervention against those violating the law has been met with stiff resistance from women.

The campaign against the compulsory hijab has grown so widespread that Abdolhossein Khosropanah, the secretary of the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, conceded in June that while women defying the hijab law should technically be arrested, the large numbers of women involved made such mass detentions unfeasible.

In recent weeks, authorities have broadened their crackdown on the issue, shutting down businesses, restaurants, cafes, and in some cases pharmacies due to the failure of owners or managers to enforce Islamic laws and hijab rules.

In the face of the unrest, some religious and government figures have repeatedly advocated a tougher stance by the government against offenders.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda
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