An Iranian version of Uber has triggered a heated debate over the country's strict Islamic dress code for women known as the hijab.
A female passenger in Tehran complained on Twitter on June 6 about a Snapp taxi driver who had forced her out of his car in the middle of a highway for not respecting the dress code.
The passenger also published the driver's picture and details to back up her claim. In a following tweet, she maintained that Snapp had apologized to her for the inconvenience and reprimanded the driver.
Meanwhile, two hashtags in support of the abandoned passenger went viral on Twitter. The Persian hashtags, which translate as "Boycott Snapp" and "We delete Snapp" in English, have been used more than 100,000 times since June 9.
Under a barrage of criticism, Snapp issued a statement, saying, they have both worked with the driver who will continue to work for the company and also addressed the grievance of the passenger for her unfinished trip.
Conservatives rushed to defend the “pious” and “dutiful” driver, bombarding Snapp with sharp criticism. The driver was identified as Saeed Abed. “Enjoining good and forbidding evil," the conservatives argued, is the duty of all true Muslims. Therefore, the driver is a praiseworthy person who deserves an award for making the right decision, they insisted.
Snapp responded with another statement on June 10 denying it had apologized to the woman."Snapp had planned to file a legal complaint against the passenger for her libelous comment, but as she apologized and repented for her claim, the company decided not to use its right to sue," Snapp maintained.
Reportedly, the passenger also apologized for her earlier statements.
However, a former students rights activists, Majid Tavakkoli, disclosed that a revolutionary court had apparently summoned the passenger and later released her after forcing her to commit in writing that she would never disregard the Islamic dress code.
In an orchestrated move, the conservatives hailed the driver as a "hero," a "true Muslim," and defender of Islam. The monopolized state-run TV network hosted the driver in a show on primetime, and the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, met and thanked him.
Some social media users derided the whole case as a setup to ruin the reputation of Snapp as the best independent taxi app in the country. Snapp's main competitors are owned and run by present or former commanders of the IRGC who dominate the Iranian economy and who seek to monopolize the market by kicking out their rivals, they claimed.