Iran's interior minister has raised an outcry not only for approving the violent arrest of a woman for hijab violation but also claiming that catching the woman in a blanket, was “according to protocols”.

Ahmad Vahidi made the statement in response to a reporter’s question after a cabinet meeting this week, who asked him about the viral video of the arrest of the woman on a street in central Tehran Monday.

The video shows two black-veiled women dragging, a woman with uncovered hair, shoving her and pushing her to the ground before taking her away in an unmarked van accompanied by a police car.

The woman’s top came off during the scuffle after which one of the enforcers fetched a blanket from the van to throw it over her and push her into the vehicle.

Vahidi claimed that the woman had “disrobed” herself so she had to be covered up with the blanket.

The use of blankets to cover women at the time of their arrest has been reported in a few other instances in the past few weeks.

Video showing the incident that the interior minister commented on

“I have a daughter and cried so much after seeing the video. I cried even more when the minister confirmed that catching girls using blankets in the manner that we saw is protocol. Please don’t give birth to girls. Having a daughter here is the greatest calamity. Being a woman in Iran is the hardest of things, particularly now that we know they have a ‘blanket protocol’ for hunting us,” a woman posting as Sousan on X wrote.

Even some moderate regime supporters have condemned the violence on social media.

“What does the law say about [using] blankets [in this manner]? Who would dare do such things if General [Qasem] Soleimani were alive. He would say girls with unsatisfactory hijab were his daughters too. There’s a difference between gold and copper!”, an X user tweeted.

Another video showing a male hijab enforcer throwing a blanket over a woman resisting arrest in Tehran

In recent years, many Iranian women have protested mandatory hijab, leading to arrests and imprisonment. Authorities have also impounded thousands of cars and closed businesses for failing to enforce hijab rules.

Many Iranians, including some women who wear the hijab themselves, believe that wearing or not wearing the hijab is a personal decision. Eighty four percent of the over 12,000 respondents to an online poll by the reformist Shargh daily in October said they were opposed to mandatory dress code and headscarves.

This very recent video shows police violently arresting a woman for hijab

Hardliners, particularly the small but very influential Paydari Party which is positioned at the extreme end of the fundamentalist camp in the Islamic Republic, have been looking for ways to strengthen the enforcement of hijab. Their ‘morality police’ tactic of arresting women for “improper hijab” backfired with the death of Mahsa Amini in September 2022, triggering nationwide Woman, Life, Freedom protests that lasted for months and shook Iran's ruling establishment to its core. More than 550 civilians were killed by security forces and around 22,000 arrested.

Consequently, the morality police largely disappeared from the streets as authorities feared further backlash from the populace.

In March 2023, hardliners attempted to end women's increasing defiance of compulsory hijab and reclaim lost ground through various instructions to government bodies, but their efforts failed as the number of women who refuse to abide by the current rules only kept increasing.

On April 13, the infamous morality patrols returned to the streets. Since then, extensive violence including sexual harassment has been reported by the few relatively independent newspapers and websites that are aligned with reformists and moderate conservative as well as social media citizen reports.

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