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The hardline government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has ratcheted up the pressure on their already-restive population by initiating a crackdown on men and women who do not comport themselves to the strict code of Islam. Iran has authorized police to make arrests when women fail to secure their hijab or men wear unusual hair styles, orders that could result in jail time even for walking a dog in public:
Iran's Islamic authorities are preparing a crackdown on women flouting the stringent dress code in the clearest sign yet of social and political repression under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
From today police in Tehran will be under orders to arrest women failing to conform to the regime's definition of Islamic morals by wearing loose-fitting hijab, or headscarves, tight jackets and shortened trousers exposing skin.
Offenders could be punished with £30 fines or two months in jail. Officers will also be authorised to confront men with outlandish hairstyles and people walking pet dogs, an activity long denounced as un-Islamic by the religious rulers.
This breaks a campaign promise by Ahmadinejad, who told Iranians that he had more important matters on which to focus besides enforcing Islamic dress codes. His ally on the Teheran city council has insisted on this clampdown in the nation's capital. Nader Shariatmaderi said that Iran is "looking for a social utopia", and that providing strict conformity to the orthodoxy is necessary, given the "international situation".
This crackdown will likely complicate that "international situation", not provide clarity or unity of support for the mullahcracy. Already, Iranians feel uneasy about the manner in which the mullahs and Ahmadinejad have pursued nuclear power and stirred up trouble with the West. So far, they have accepted the official explanation that the Iranian nuclear cycle is intended for domestic energy production and that Teheran has no aggressive intent towards the West. However, this crackdown will underscore the hostility that the mullahcracy has towards modernization and will re-stir the dissent within Iranian society.
Given the unstable nature of their support at home, one has to wonder at the judgment of the mullahcracy and Ahmadinejad at this juncture. Their efforts to create a sequel to the disastrous example of the Taliban in Afghanistan, especially on an Iranian population that is much more cosmopolitan than the Afghans, underscores the messianic and almost schizophrenic tone that seems to increase each week from Teheran. They almost appear to be daring their opposition to rise up and create a populist revolt to pull down the mullahcracy. If so, then let's hope they get what they wish.Sphere It View blog reactions
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