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The Farda Briefing: Iran's Hard-Liners Propose Tougher Measures To Enforce Hijab Law


Iranian women celebrate the first day of spring on March 22 without the compulsory hijab in Isfahan.

Welcome back to The Farda Briefing, an RFE/RL newsletter that tracks the key issues in Iran and explains why they matter. To subscribe, click here.

I'm RFE/RL correspondent Golnaz Esfandiari. Here's what I've been following during the past week and what I'm watching for in the days ahead.

The Big Issue

Hard-line lawmakers in Iran have proposed new tougher measures to enforce the country's hijab law.

The proposed measures would impose fines of up to $60,000 on women who violate the law as well as the confiscation of their passports and driver's licenses, according to lawmaker Hossein Jalali.

Another member of parliament, Bijan Nobaveh, said the proposed measures also include using surveillance cameras to monitor if women in public are wearing the compulsory hijab. As punishment, offenders would be denied mobile phone and Internet services, he said.

Separately, officials with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said members of the Basij paramilitary forces will be deployed in the holy Shi'ite city of Qom during the fasting month of Ramadan to promote and enforce "the culture of hijab."

Meanwhile, a video posted online appeared to show unveiled women being prevented from entering a historic garden in the southern city of Shiraz.

Why It Matters: A growing number of Iranian women are appearing in public with their hair uncovered, in a direct challenge to Iran's clerical regime.

Women have been emboldened by the nationwide anti-regime protests that erupted in September following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini soon after she was arrested by Iran's morality police for allegedly violating the hijab law.

The authorities appear to be looking for new ways to enforce the hijab law, which women have resisted for the past four decades.

Mohsen Araki, a member of the Assembly of Experts, the 88-member chamber of theologians that oversees the work of the country's supreme leader, compared uncovered women in Iran to a "new COVID" pandemic.

What's Next: The authorities' doubling down on the enforcement of the hijab law could increase discontent in society and result in more defiance and acts of civil disobedience by women determined to challenge the discriminatory law.

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Antiestablishment protests have largely died down across most of Iran amid a deadly state crackdown. But in the impoverished southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan, thousands of people continue to hold weekly protests against the clerical regime. The protests have been fueled by anger over the deadly state crackdown and historical grievances.

Prominent activist Masih Alinejad said the West's continued support for Iranians is vital both for achieving regime change in Iran and reaching the goals Western nations have in their relationship with Tehran. Speaking in an interview with RFE/RL's Radio Farda, Alinejad said she has tried to persuade Western leaders that the months of unrest that have roiled Iran are an actual revolution that will ultimately lead to the toppling of the clerical regime.

What We're Watching

Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpur, commander of the IRGC's ground forces, appeared to warn anti-regime protesters in Sistan-Baluchistan against crossing the authorities' so-called red lines.

According to the IRGC-affiliated Tasnim news agency, Pakpur blamed the unrest on "enemies" and warned that "if someone attempts to undermine the security of the people, they will be severely dealt with."

Why It Matters: The continuing unrest in Sistan-Baluchistan poses a challenge to the authorities.

Pakpur's comments could suggest the authorities are losing patience with protesters and Molavi Abdolhamid, the outspoken Friday Prayers leader in Zahedan who has publicly criticized the authorities for the deadly crackdown in Sistan-Baluchistan and its alleged repression of Iran's ethnic and religious minorities.

That's all from me for now. Don't forget to send me any questions, comments, or tips that you have.

Until next time,

Golnaz Esfandiari

If you enjoyed this briefing and don't want to miss the next edition, subscribe here. It will be sent to your inbox every Wednesday.

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    Golnaz Esfandiari

    Golnaz Esfandiari is a senior correspondent for RFE/RL focusing on Iran. She has reported from Afghanistan and Haiti and is one of the authors of The Farda Briefing newsletter. Her work has been cited by The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other major publications. Born and raised in Tehran, she is fluent in Persian, French, English, and Czech.

About This Newsletter


The Farda Briefing is an RFE/RL newsletter that tracks the key issues in Iran and explains why they matter. Written by senior correspondent Golnaz Esfandiari and other reporters from Radio Farda.

The newsletter is sent every Wednesday. To subscribe, click here.

We also invite you to check out the improved Farda website in English and its dedicated Twitter account, which showcase all of our compelling journalism from Iran.

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