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Ahmadinejad Makes Controversial Remarks About Iran's Hijab Law

Former Iranian President Ahmadinejad in an interview with RFE/RL
Former Iranian President Ahmadinejad in an interview with RFE/RL

The hardline former Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, says that the hijab law in Iran must be compatible with most people's wishes.

Speaking to Mehdi Nasiri, the former editor-in-chief of an ultraconservative daily close to Iran's Supreme Leader, Ahmadinejad posed the question, "If the parliament has passed a law, but the majority of the people rejected it, can one say that I would apply it at any cost?"

Nasiri's interview with the controversial former President was published on Thursday on the YouTube and Telegram social networks.

During his presidency, Ahmadinejad enjoyed the support of extremist groups of fundamentalists and clerics, such as Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi. Nasiri was also a student of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, and the editor-in-chief of an extremist weekly, Sobh (Morning).

Responding to Ahmadinejad's unprecedented remarks about the hijab, Nasiri reminded him of the comments made by the supporters of the law, referring to Khamenei's speech he made when responding to the widespread protests against compulsory hijab in March 2018. At the time, Khamenei defended the mandatory Islamic dress code and argued that it prevented "sexual harassment," and categorically dismissed the argument that everyone should be free to choose their clothing and maintained that such reasoning could apply to all other "social sins."

Ahmadinejad fired back by asking, "If, at a given time, the leadership recommends something, does it mean that someone who has an opinion on the issue, should not express it? Or, for example, is it not possible that he (Khamenei's) may have changed his opinion in the past two years?! Such deductions are absurd."

In the final years of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's second term, there were signs of a rift between him and Ayatollah Khamenei. He also announced his candidacy in the 2017 presidential election, which was said to be "against the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic's recommendation." However, the Guardian Council disqualified him.