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Crackdown On Online Businesses Intensifies In Iran

Tuesday, 02/06/2024

Amid the Nowruz shopping season on the eve of Iranian new year, the Prosecutor's Office and Cyber Police in Iran have ramped up enforcement on online businesses.

Alongside the suspension of vehicles and the closure of establishments, authorities have now intensified scrutiny on ecommerce, citing concerns over "improper hijab" during the shopping period.

They have targeted images on websites and social media deemed to violate strict compulsory hijab regulations. The crackdown has affected numerous bloggers and businesses in the women's clothing sector, leading to page suspensions and post deletions, according to Didban Iran.

One women's clothing vendor, conducting both offline and online sales, spoke of being compelled to remove images following guidelines mandating closed coats and jackets, prohibiting street-location product photography, and banning the use of mini scarves. Any exposure of body parts and the use of distressed jeans is also strictly prohibited.

Reza Olfat Nasab, a member of the Union of Virtual Businesses' board of directors, said that “image regulations are just one of many concerns". She explained, "Larger issues such as internet speed and restrictions pose significant hurdles to the industry's operations.”

The increased enforcement of hijab comes in the wake of extensive protests in Iran following the death of Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in 2022 while in morality police custody. Amini's arrest in Tehran, reportedly for violating the Islamic republic’s compulsory hijab requirement, sparked one of the largest uprisings since the regime came to power. 

Women nationwide have been actively contesting the mandatory hijab, leading to heightened vigilance from hijab enforcement personnel in public areas like subway stations, schools and universities and public spaces.

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