Iran's Police Chief Ahmad Radan has threatened government offices that do not deny services to unveiled women with repercussions as part of hijab enforcement. 

Speaking on the sidelines of a ceremony in the northern province of Mazandaran Wednesday, Brigadier General Radan said his force will be reporting lack of adequate action in enforcing hijab laws by government offices as administrative infringement. 

He also vowed that police will be surveilling Caspian Sea beaches, in Mazandaran and Gilan provinces, by special patrols and electronically to prevent any behavior violating hijab laws. 

Threats against unveiled women have increased with the arrival of summer which has always been a season for women to ignore the strict government dress code. 

In July 2022, after weeks of harsher measures on the streets, President Ebrahim Raisi ordered all government entities to strictly implement a “chastity and hijab” law approved by the Supreme Cultural Revolution Council under hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005. 

Not long after that, the death of the 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of hijab enforcers, morality police, fuelled protests that spread throughout the country and lasted for several months. 

Two Iranian women walk past an urban art without wearing the mandatory Islamic headscarf in downtown Tehran,on June 8, 2023.

Since March hardliners have tried to put an end to women’s increasing defiance of the compulsory hijab and to reclaim the lost ground but to no avail: More women are now walking around, commuting, shopping, and jogging unveiled. 

Iran's media published the final version of a new hijab bill prepared jointly by the judiciary and the government. An earlier draft which was revealed two weeks ago was strongly criticized by hardliners which saw its punishments for unveiling “too lenient” to be able to stop women from unveiling. 

Punishments proposed in the bill are mainly cash fines ranging from 5 million rials ($10) to 240 million rials ($480) for repeat offenders, and deprivation from employment and social media activity for athletes, celebrity artists and activists who unveil. 

The bill, however, also includes provisions against “anyone” other than authorized entities, who confronts citizens in public and uses violence and threats against unveiled women. 

Hardliners such as Raisi’s very influential father-in-law, Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda, who represents Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in Khorasan-e Razavi Province, have strongly criticized the bill. 

Alamolhoda alleged on May 26 that the bill, if passed, would promote unveiling rather than prevent it. 

Firebrand Hossein Shariatmadari, the editor of the flagship hardliner newspaper Kayhan wrote about the first version of the bill on May 21. “A look at the content of the bill and comparison with the existing laws suggests that the bill has been prepared with the possible aim of removing the existing legal obstacles [against unveiling] and preparing the ground for the spread of this nasty and abominable phenomenon rather than taking action against unveiling,” 

The population in general, however, even in many smaller and more conservative areas of the country, appears to have become much more tolerant of women who do not dress according to the prescribed codes and their newfound freedom from the hijab. 

“Women know that it’s now or never because the mullahs are afraid of more protests. They are persisting with all their might, given this opportunity, to normalize the presence of unveiled women in the society,” Ronak, a 34-year-old engineer in Tehran told Iran International. 

“They can pass any laws they want to convince their supporters they are doing something or reinstate their control but after the recent protests they have realized that the enforcement of such laws by force could be very costly and one little push too far may cause the Berlin Wall to crash down,” she said. “That’s why they are telling the vigilantes to back down.”

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