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Iran Set to Start New Hijab Enforcement Plan Soon

Iranian women singing without hijab in the subway in Tehran, as a sign of protest. March 8, 2018

Having failed to stem growing public opposition to compulsory hijab enforcement through arrests and harsh prison sentences, the Islamic Republic police are set to implement a new plan.

Branded as "Watch 2", the new method will be enforced from next week (beginning Saturday, September 1), said the deputy police chief, Ayyoub Soleimani.

Based on the new plan, police officers will be deployed in public places, including supermarkets and beaches to "verbally warn" women considered having "bad hijab."

In recent months, the country's police have tried to implement another plan, branded as "watch 1," to confront women who ignore strict hijab and Islamic dress code while riding in vehicles.

"Watch 1 has been successful up to 80% in the provinces, and 40%-50% in the capital city, Tehran," the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) General Soleimani maintained.

According to "Watch 1", if women are seen with "loose hijab" driving or being passengers in vehicles, the police sends a text message to the owners of the cars, giving them 72 hours to present themselves to the "Morality Police" headquarters and commit in writing that they will never repeat the offense.

If an owne who is warned ignores the written commitment, the vehicle will be held for a week. And if the offense is repeated for a third time, the police will confiscate the vehicle and present the owner to the judiciary.

Earlier on July 17, the Islamic Republic police chief IRGC General Hossein Ashtari had claimed that since implementing Watch 1 plan, 300,000 text messages had been relayed to the owners of vehicles who had violated compulsory hijab law.

However, only half of those cautioned cared to visit the Morality Police headquarters, Ashtari admitted at the time.

Meanwhile, the deputy Police Chief announced that another plan, named as Watch 3, that will control women's dress factories and shops to prevent them from producing or selling "non-Islamic" dresses.

Iranian women have been struggling against compulsory hijab since 1980, almost immediately after the Islamic revolution that led to the downfall of Iran's last monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

The struggle gained momentum in December 2017 when a woman climbed atop a utility box in Tehran's busy Enqelab (Revolution) Street, taking off her headscarf and waving it on a stick.

Soon, dozens more followed the footsteps of the "Girl of the Revolution Street" across the country, regardless of the consequences.

Nevertheless, the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has advised law enforcement officers to ignore "opposition by certain individuals and the media hype," and enforce the Islamic dress code with full force.