A court in Iran has sentenced an actress to four months in a remote prison and banned her from acting and social media activity for two years due to her rejection of hijab.

As reported by the reformist Ham-Mihan newspaper on Tuesday, Leila Bolukat has also been prohibited from leaving the country for two years and ordered to summarize a book within one month, although the name of the book has not been disclosed. Previously, a dissident was sentenced to handwrite three books by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

The forty-two-year-old Bolukat was indicted in June on charges of “damaging public morality and chastity through removing [her] hijab and publishing photos of it on her personal accounts on social media accounts.”

In the photos mentioned by the court, Bolukat was seen wearing a hat instead of the required headscarf, with her hair falling on her shoulders.

Actress Leila Bolukat

Two other actresses, Afsaneh Bayegan and Azadeh Samadi who also appeared in public wearing hats instead of headscarves were indicted by the judiciary in the past few weeks. 

Deputy Islamic Culture and Guidance Minister Mohammad Hashemi confirmed on Tuesday that the government prevented a film company from hiring another actress, whose name was not disclosed, also for rejecting hijab.

“This actress [who removed her veil] is not permitted to work for the time being due to her obvious infringement of the law,” Hashemi said, apparently referring to Shaghayegh Dehghan who was indicted last month for sharing a photo of herself without the compulsory veil taken on a Tehran street. 

Actress Afsaneh Bayegan

Hashemi also mentioned that around 1,000 artists have "broken the laws," and 300 other actors and artists have refused to conform to the system even after authorities spoke with them and informed them of the legal consequences of their defiance. As a result, the ministry has imposed various limitations on their activities, including work bans.

Disregarding forced hijab has become common in large Iranian cities after last year’s popular protests ignited by the death of a young woman in hijab police custody. The authorities are now worried that ordinary girls and women may be emboldened by celebrities’ defiance of the compulsory hijab and follow suit. 

Recent videos and photos taken in public places in Tehran and other cities and posted on social media show a significant increase in the number of women without head coverings and wearing ordinary clothing rather than the long tunic and trousers that the authorities have been trying to enforce for all women. This shift in behavior was a rare sight just a year ago in the Islamic Republic.

Courts in Iran have been issuing strange and unprecedented punishments for defiance of hijab in the past couple of months, such as sentencing a woman to ritual washing of corpses for burial at a Tehran funeral home for one month, in addition to a cash fine of 31 million rials ($60) for not wearing the hijab in her car while driving.

Actress Azadeh Samadi

The news about actress Azadeh Samadi being sentenced to counseling sessions at “an official counseling center to cure her anti-social personality disorder” has also gone viral on social media since July 14. The court has additionally decided that Samadi cannot use her phone for six months and all her social media accounts are “confiscated”. 

The Directors Guild of Iran and the Iran Producers Guild, in a joint statement on July 15, condemned Samadi's sentencing and called it "an insult to the intelligence of all cinema people." These influential unions also pledged support to Iranian actresses and filmmakers who face similar court decisions aiming to humiliate them. They demanded an apology to Samadi for the verdict, which they deemed "weird."

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