Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Persian Letters

Iranian Official Dressed Down Over Revealing Women’s Leggings

Iranian police warn a woman wearing leggings about her clothing and hair during a crackdown to enforce the country's Islamic dress code. (file photo)
Iranian police warn a woman wearing leggings about her clothing and hair during a crackdown to enforce the country's Islamic dress code. (file photo)

Skin-tight leggings popular among Iranian women have sparked an uproar in the Islamic republic's parliament, where the interior minister was dressed down over the female population's fashion choices.

Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli received a warning from parliamentarians at a June 24 hearing amid accusations that he is not doing enough to stop women from wearing the elastic leggings known as "supports" in Iran.

Fazli was summoned to the conservative-dominated parliament to answer questions regarding the enforcement of Iran's obligatory Islamic dress code, which requires women to cover their hair and bodies.  

Lawmakers questioned Fazli specifically about the form-revealing leggings, which hard-liners have criticized as a symbol of decadent Western culture. 

"Why is the Interior Ministry indifferent to the phenomenon of women who wear supports in Tehran and other cities?" lawmakers asked the official. 

Fazli was also asked why a "small budget" designated for enforcing the dress code had been eliminated. 

He responded by saying that the Interior Ministry is just one of 22 entities responsible for enforcing a law requiring women to wear the Islamic hijab, which became obligatory following the 1979 revolution and the creation of the Islamic republic. 

During the past three decades, the clerical establishment has used force and cultural measures to compel many women to wear the hijab. 

'National Security Issue'

Fazli said his ministry is actively working on the issue, which he said could not be solved in the short term. Budgetary funds have been allocated to promote the hijab, he added.

The interior ministry has taken several measures to encourage the Islamic dress code, including the creation of nongovernmental organizations and dress-code supervision at department stores, airports and student dormitories, Fazli said 

Iranian media reported that the official did not manage to convince lawmakers, who proceeded to issue him a warning -- or a "yellow card" in soccer parlance. 

Lawmaker Ali Motahari said women who wear leggings should not be allowed into official buildings. 

Motahari claimed that a majority of Iranian women have accepted the hijab but that there are "rare" exceptions that threaten the foundation of families. 

"It is the government's duty to act against clear sins. The government should prevent support clothing from being promoted," Motahari was quoted as saying by the semi-official news agency ISNA.

Iranian news agencies reported that Motahari caused a commotion during the hearing when he used large monitors to display photographs of women wearing leggings.  
Motahari reportedly reacted by saying that lawmakers appeared to enjoy viewing the pictures. 

Commenting on the debate in the parliament, a Tehran-based woman wrote sarcastically on Facebook that leggings are becoming a "national security issue" in the Islamic republic. 

"Forget the nuclear issue, poverty and inflation, and the advances of ISIL [the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant]. Support pants are the priority for our lawmakers."

-- Golnaz Esfandiari


This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Bill Webb from: Phoenix Arizona USA
June 25, 2014 03:21
As usual, the islamic authorities have their priorities all screwed up. If muslim men could keep their pants on there would be no need.

by: Helen from: Yorkshire, UK
June 25, 2014 06:38
This is an example of where making the state the guardian of public morality can end up.
Maybe we should have a day where we all wear leggings to let the women of Iran and their oppressors know of our support for them.

by: Pushkin from: Canada
June 25, 2014 10:13
Women in Iran are extremely clever-they know how to get around all of the edicts in wear apparel and how to get around the religious police. Iran always had a solid core of well educated women and someday, there will be mass disobedience to dress code from the Mullahs. The whole thing is a sham-simply tolerated now with clever ideas by women to abrogate the nonsense. Iranian women are not Arabic women-they are well tuned into western things-are very clever-and will manage to persevere.

by: Nazazin
June 25, 2014 13:24
One would thought they have more important things to discuss than leggings.

by: Sey from: World
June 25, 2014 15:44
It seems to me some people here truly believing wearing leggins, or any Western clothing for that matter, represent Iranianhood. Let's get one thing straight here. Iranian women are not Arab women. But they are not Western women either.

I know very well the problem some Iranians have with Islam "being an Arab thing, we are Persians" and all (which is pretty dumb if you ask me, because then "Christianity is a Jew thing and we aren't Jews")... but I will remind you that traditional Iranian clothing is also being bashed by these "progressive" Iranians because it features long all-covering dresses and headscarves...all of which go back to the Achaemenid era if not earlier.

Saving the differences, see Gilaki women dress for example...not even the most conservative Muslimah wears such long and baggy skirts.

Some people seem to be locked in the times of Reza Khan and Ataturk..."all Western is good and progressive, all national is bad and backwards".
In Response

by: Athanatos from: Europe
June 28, 2014 05:17
Sey, it's not about "western is good, national is bad".
Don't you think, that every woman (or man) should may choose what to wear? Don't you think, that clothes of people is not government or other people's business? It's a personal choise.
One may choose to wear a hidjab - let she wear it. But why they want to force everyone to do this?

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.

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Seen anything in the Iranian blogosphere that you think Persian Letters should cover? If so, contact Golnaz Esfandiari at esfandiarig@rferl.org