An official from the Ministry of Justice in Iran’s Fars province has declared that those arrested for drinking alcoholic beverages and/or not observing the Islamic dress code, the “hijab”, would be sent to special rehabilitation and retraining classes.
Iranian news agencies have quoted judiciary officials as saying that the new punitive measures, announced earlier this week, are supposed to “save offenders from having a criminal record”.
That objective is, however, at odds with what was announced earlier in another part of the country. Shortly before, the prosecutor-general of Sari, in the north of Iran, had warned female drivers to wear their headscarves the right way or face their cars being impounded.
That means if a woman is stopped driving a car in the streets and the so-called morality police decides that she is not wearing proper hijab, she could face incarceration and risk her car being towed away. That is indeed going to be registered as “criminal record” when the law is enforced.
The new announcements signal the fact that the Islamic Republic’s decades-long battle to enforce hijab is struggling to evolve as new, and sometimes contrasting, punishments are introduced for infringements.
According to Iran’s law, a long list of actions deemed as contradictory with the teachings of Islam are forbidden. Among those, extra-marital relationship with the opposite sex, drinking alcohol and not observing the Islamic hijab are considered crimes in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Women and Human Rights activists have condemned such warnings as unfair and unacceptable; yet the confrontation of the Islamic government with the women it deems indecent continues.