Iran’s hijab law under scrutiny: Attorney General

Iran’s parliament and judiciary are reviewing a law requiring women to cover their heads that has sparked more than two months of deadly protests, the attorney general said.

The demonstrations began after Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian of Kurdish origin, died in custody on September 16 after being arrested by Iran’s morality police for an alleged dress code violation.

Protesters burned their headgear and shouted anti-government slogans. Since Amini’s death, a growing number of women are not wearing the hijab, particularly in trendy north Tehran.

The hijab became mandatory for all women in Iran in April 1983, four years after the 1979 revolution that overthrew the US-backed monarchy.

“Both the parliament and the judiciary are working (on the issue),” on whether the law needs changes, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri said in the holy city of Qom.

Quoted on Friday by the Isna news agency, he did not specify what could be changed in the law.

The review team met with the parliament’s cultural committee on Wednesday “and will see the results in a week or two,” the attorney general said.

President Ebrahim Raisi said on Saturday that Iran’s republican and Islamic foundations are constitutionally entrenched.

“But there are methods of implementing the constitution that can be flexible,” he said in televised commentary.

– Hundreds dead –

After the hijab law became mandatory, as dress regulations changed, it became commonplace to see women in skinny jeans and loose, colorful headscarves.

But in July of this year Raisi, an ultra-conservative, called for the mobilization of “all state institutions to enforce the law on the veil.”

However, many women continued to break the rules.

Iran accuses its sworn enemy, the United States and its allies, including Britain, Israel and Kurdish groups based outside the country, of fomenting street violence the government calls “riots”.

A general in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps this week said for the first time that more than 300 people had lost their lives in the unrest since Amini’s death.

Iran’s top security body, the Supreme National Security Council, said on Saturday that the number of people killed during the protests “exceeds 200”.

Quoted by the state news agency IRNA, it said the figure included security officers, civilians, armed separatists and “rioters”.

The Oslo-based non-governmental organization Iran Human Rights said on Tuesday that at least 448 people had been “killed by security forces during ongoing nationwide protests”.

UN rights chief Volker Turk said last week that 14,000 people, including children, had been arrested in the crackdown on protests.

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