Despite the many economic woes including inflation and recurring protests, Iran's police, judiciary and other authorities have focused on hijab enforcement.

Police said Sunday that on the first day of the implementation of its new hijab enforcement plan it had warned 3,500 businesses about hijab infringements on their premises. They also shut down 137 shops as well as 18 restaurants and wedding hall-gardens that were repeat offenders and referred their cases to the judiciary for further action.

According to police spokesman Brigadier Saeed Montazerolmahdi, police also warned owners of several hundred vehicles whose drivers or passengers were spotted hijabless by text messages.

An Iranian woman unveiling in public

“The police force will enforce the law against a small number of people who look like they have arrived from a different planet, are unaware of the norms and traditions of the country, and break the law,” he said.

Cycling “hijabless” at Tehran’s Keshavarz Boulevard on April 16.

Police officials warned last week that the campaign against women who do not abide by the hijab rules would begin Saturday with the help of public CCTV cameras.

Many women, however, have shared photos of being in the streets, parks and other public areas without hijab on social media despite the harsh warnings.

Since Khamenei’s declaration of “hijablessness” being not only religiously but also politically forbidden, Iranian officials have focused on the hijab issue despite the many other problems such as high inflation and corruption that the country is facing.

Workers and retirees who resumed their scattered protests after the New Year holidays in early April complain that their dire circumstances are being ignored at the cost of re-establishing the regime’s control over women for hijab. “Bridling inflation was only an empty slogan,” protesting retirees in Shushtar in Khuzestan province chanted Sunday.

Protesting retirees in Shushtar chanting “Bridling inflation was only an empty slogan”

Meanwhile, students staged sit-ins in several universities in Tehran in protest to officials cracking down on women for hijab, using harsh punitive actions against dissident students.

In recent days authorities have denied entrance to women whose tunics were considered as “too short” or for wearing make-up in some universities. Punitive actions such as suspensions, for as long as two years, for hijab and political activities have also been reported in several universities.

“Stop suffocation and suppression in universities” and “Freedom of choice over hijab is the Iranian women’s right”, were some of the placards protesting students held at the psychology and educational sciences faculty of Tehran University.

“Schoolgirls are being poisoned, teachers are in prison, and all they care about is hijab!” protesting students chanted at the social sciences faculty in the same university.

Girls behind the gates of Rasht Azad University waiting for inspection of their appearance before entering.

In a statement Saturday, fifteen prominent Iranian lawyers and rights activists warned the government over its “suppressive policy” of imposing hijab and said a truth finding committee of the United Nations would be required to investigate the harms caused by these policies.

The statement signed by lawyers and human rights activists from inside Iran and abroad including Nasrin Sotoudeh and other rights defenders have urged that UN human rights sanctions should be imposed on those involved in violence against women for hijab.

“Unable to establish justice and equality of women and men as the most basic of legal principles, the Islamic Republic is expanding the suppression of women in contradiction to basic human and civil rights, by forging new terms such as ‘politically haram’ while continuing its clear repressive policies,” the statement said.

“Politically haram” is a term first used by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on April 4. “Discarding hijab is haram (sin) based on Sharia and also politically,” Khamenei emphatically declared at a meeting with state officials while claiming that foreign intelligence services were encouraging Iranian women to disobey mandatory hijab.

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