Anger has been stoked by a viral video of Iran’s “morality police” scuffling with a young woman, reviving the issue of compulsory hijab.
The footage shows male and female officers arguing with the woman and her friends, apparently over head covering. Two female officers order her, through words and gestures, to “stay in the corner”.
However, as the woman continues to criticize the police, a female officer calls her an “animal”. The woman responds that the officers are “ignorant” and “shameless”.
A female officer then furiously hits the woman, bringing loud screams as friends try to intervene and protect her. One shouts, “Why such a violent arrest? For not wearing a hijab?”
Government officials and legislators have denounced the actions of the officers. Masoumeh Ebtekar, Vice President for women’s affairs, “condemned” the violent behaviour “no human deserves”.
In an official statement Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli ordered a “comprehensive inquiry” into “the unconventional encounter of the morality police officer”. However, the statement blamed the young woman for the incident, saying she used a “profanity” against officers who were prompting her to abide by the law.
Protests against the hijab were sparked in late December when Vida Movahed, a 31-year-old mother, stood atop an electrical junction box on Enghelab (Revolution) Street in Tehran, waving her hijab on the end of a stick. Despite Movahed’s arrest, other women — and some men in support — joined the demonstrations.
Iranian police eventually detained 29 women, briefly imprisoning them before allowing bail. One protester, Narges Hosseini, was given a two-year sentence, and supporters of the movement have been threatened with 10 years behind bars.
The Supreme Leader has condemned the “deviancy”, saying the “enemy” is behind the protests.
Rouhani Follows Supreme Leader in Blaming Currency Crisis on “Enemy Plots”
President Hassan Rouhani has followed the Supreme Leader in blaming Iran’s historic currency crisis on foreign powers, rather than the Islamic Republic’s economic problems:
#Iran's president: The recent foreign exchange decision will foil the enemies' plots…Whether the #IranDeal stands or not; with or without #USA, we will have stability in the foreign exchange market.#JCPOA pic.twitter.com/nnilvLpw8q
— Abas Aslani (@AbasAslani) April 21, 2018
The Iranian rial fell this month to 61,000:1 v. the US dollar, shattering the previous low of about 45,000:1 set in 2011-2012. Government measures such as raising interest rates and arresting unofficial currency dealers did not stem the drop.
Last week the Government declared the unification of the official and open-market rates at 42,000:1, but the step has only led to the closure of many exchange offices and long lines, for small amounts of currency, at official outlets.