Islamic Iran embarks on campaign to clean up ''depraved'' commerce
Iranian authorities announced Saturday, August 18, a campaign to clean up morals on the street, targeting everything from the sale of "depraved" music to the display of "provocative" manikins in shop windows.
The campaign, which is to get underway on Sunday, will involve a vast operation to remove the "signs and symbols of depravation" from public places, notably the shops of Tehran, according to a police statement carried by state radio.
Boutiques and other public establishments, such as restaurants and cafes, will be warned to toe the line or face being closed down by the police. The "production, distribution, purchase or sale of any object carrying markings that are depraved and contrary to sexual modesty is prohibited," the statement said. The airing of music in shops will also be prohibited, as will be the sale of "depraved" recordings, the statement said.
The sale of "dogs and monkeys in shops" is also out, a clear reference to numerous shops that cater mostly to teenagers in well-to-do northern Tehran. Dogs are considered "najess," or impure, in Islam. In recent years, however, the keeping of dogs and sometimes even monkeys as house pets has become very popular, with boys and girls often seen walking their pets on the streets.
"Provocative" manikins as well as the display of "lingerie" in shop windows is strictly prohibited, the statement said. Shop owners will be exhorted to "strictly respect the dress code," with women expected to cover their hair and bodies with scarves and long coats.
These bans have been on the books since the 1979 Islamic revolution, but have not been observed as strictly since the 1997 election of reformist President Muhammad Khatami, who called for a liberalization of society.
Earlier this month, police in the holy city of Qum announced the begin of a war against what they called "flagrant manifestations of corruption," "moral decadence" and "social corruption." "Regarding the spread of decadent western culture in society, police have seriously risen up against the propagators of corruption," police said in a statement carried by the official IRNA news agency.
Shop owners were warned of "serious consequences" in case they displayed "neckties, women's clothing and lingerie," while "managers and ordinary employees" were forbidden to wear neckties in their offices. The head of the nation's conservative-led judiciary, Ayatullah Mahmud Hashemi Shahrudi, last week also warned against the expansion of "depravation, notably among the youth."
Meanwhile, a steep rise in public floggings in Tehran have sparked a new political dispute between conservatives and reformists. Some 200 youths have been publicly flogged in recent weeks in northern Tehran, the majority accused of drinking alcohol, forbidden under Islamic law.
“These floggings, instead of making victims repentant, increase public sympathy for them, aside from being contrary to the Islamic objective of imposing lashes," the deputy interior minister for political affairs, Muhammad-Javad Haqshinas, told IRNA.Other reformists argue the public beatings are harming Iran's international image.
On Friday, a top conservative cleric told hundreds of worshippers at weekly Friday prayers in Tehran that the United States was "conspiring to disillusion the people, notably the youth." Ayatullah Muhammad Imami-Kashani said Washington was "spreading corruption in the country to deprave the younger generation and take them away from religion." He added that "anyone who claims disillusionment has in fact supported the enemies of Islam and therefore betrayed the country."
Iran counts as one of the world's youngest nation's, with some 70 percent of the 62-million-strong population under the age of 30. In June, Khatami was re-elected to a second four-year term in office with 77 percent of the votes, the majority of which came from young people, students and women who welcome his agenda for liberalizing society. ― (AFP, Tehran)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)