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Iranian Police Arrest 29 Women Protesting Against Veiling Law

Iranians Stand Up Against Hijab
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Iranian police say they arrested 29 women who removed their head scarves in a growing protest against a law requiring women to wear the Islamic veils in public.

The Tasnim news agency reported on February 1 that police claimed the women had been “tricked” into removing their head scarves by a propaganda campaign being conducted by Iranians living abroad.

It was not immediately clear if all the arrests were in the capital, Tehran.

Women's dress has been heavily scrutinized in the Islamic republic since the 1979 revolution, when adherence to an Islamic dress code became compulsory.

The dress code dictates that women's hair and body must be covered in public.

Morality police launch regular crackdowns on those who are not fully respecting rules relating to the hijab.

The arrests reported on February 1 came after at least six women had been detained in Tehran this week in similar protests.

A woman whose case drew international attention was freed from custody on January 28. She had been arrested in Tehran last month for apparently protesting peacefully against the dress code.

"The girl of Enghelab Street has been released," human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh wrote in a post on her Facebook page on January 28.

The image of the young woman protesting the hijab went viral.
The image of the young woman protesting the hijab went viral.

A video showing the woman, whose name has not been made public, standing on a concrete structure on Tehran’s Enghelab (Revolution) Street without wearing a head scarf had gone viral on social media since December 27.

Amnesty International had called on Iranian authorities to “immediately and unconditionally” release the woman after her arrest.

The London-based rights group also reiterated its calls on the authorities to “end the persecution of women who speak out against compulsory veiling, and abolish this discriminatory and humiliating practice.”

Activists who defy the dress code could face jail sentences of several weeks for removing their head scarves.

The protests over the dress code follow much larger protests that erupted on Iranian streets in December.

At least 22 people were killed and 1,000 people arrested in the antigovernment protests that were sparked at first over rising consumer prices but later evolved into much wider demonstrations.

Iranian President Hassan Rohani has yet to comment directly on the head scarf protests, though he has in the past urged authorities to act in moderation.

"We can't get anything done if we don't have the people behind us and ignore their criticism," Rohani said on January 31.

"All officials of the country should have a listening ear for people's demands and wishes," he added.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Radio Farda, dpa, and Reuters