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Iran's morality police are back on the beat. (file photo)
Police in the Iranian town of Qaemshahr have arrested some 40 young people for wearing "satanic" clothes and for sporting “Western” hairstyles.

Police Chief Mahmud Rahmani told Iranian news agencies that there are two reasons behind the crackdown -- to strengthen public security and to confront a “satanic culture.”

Punishment was not specified. Usual penalties for such behavior range from warnings to fines.

Rahmani said Iran's enemies want to deprive the country's youth of a decent life by promoting foreign cultures.

Women in Iran are required to cover their heads and wear loose-fitting clothes to hide their bodies. Men are not allowed to wear so-called Western-style T-shirts and spiky hairstyles.

Morality police arrest and fine dress-code offenders, including women who are showing their hair or wearing tight coats.

Neda, a 24-year-old resident of Tehran, told RFE/RL’s Radio Farda she was recently detained by police for wearing a white coat, a color that the morality officers found unsuitable.

“It is not clear what exactly the police want,” Neda said. “We cover our heads and bodies. We wear head scarves and long coats. But apparently nothing satisfies morality police officers. They always find a reason to punish us for violating their vague dress code.”

Neda said authorities are trying to further tighten an already restrictive dress code.

(by RFE/RL correspondent Farangis Najibullah)
Sazak Durdymuradov
Another Turkmen activist has had his candidacy to run for parliament rejected by Turkmen officials.

Sazak Durdymuradov told RFE/RL's Turkmen Service that he was rejected as a candidate in the Bakharden district in the December 14 elections, even though 23 people joined an initiative group to support his candidacy. The election law requires only 10 people.

Durdymuradov's rejection comes one week after Turkmen dissident Gurbandurdy Durdykuliev's candidacy was rejected.

Durdymuradov, 59, said he has recently received death threats against himself and his children. He adds that there has been no campaigning in his district ahead of the December 14 elections.

Durdymuradov worked as a reporter for RFE/RL until he was seized at home by Turkmen secret police on June 20 and taken to a psychiatric clinic.

He was forced to sign a letter agreeing not to work as a journalist before being released in early July.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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