Female cartoon characters shown on Iranian television must now wear a hijab, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ruled.
Khamenei said that whilst it is not necessary for the women in cartoons and anime films to have their hair covered, it is 'required' because of the consequences of not wearing a hijab.
Political activists in Iran have condemned the move as 'toxic', arguing that those in power are 'obsessed with the hair of female anything'.
Iranian news agency Tasnim quoted Khamenei as saying that women in cartoons and animated cartoon films should wear hijab, in response to a query by a Telegram user. 🧕https://t.co/yVw2utM5q5— The Current (@TheCurrentPK) February 23, 2021
Khamenei was asked by pro-regime Tasnim News Agency whether he believed it was 'necessary to observe hijab for the characters of animated films'.
He responded: 'Although wearing hijab in such a hypothetical situation is not required per se, observing hijab in animation is required due to the consequences of not wearing hijab.'
While Khamenei did not go into further detail about the 'consequences', but he has previously activists suggested that he was fearful that 'girls will grow up and not wear hijab'.
Iranian journalist and activist Masih Alinejad mocked the decision and wrote on Twitter: 'This isn't a joke! The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran has announced women even in animations should wear hijab.
'Even female insects like bees have their hijabs on!
'Their obsession with the hair of female anything is toxic. These people are in power in Iran.'
Meanwhile, Iranian academic Arash Azizi criticised the decision, tweeting: 'In case you thought the Grand Ayatollah Khamenei wasn't focused on core issues of interest for Iran and Iranians.'
'The absurdity of this is beyond my comprehension. Is the fear that girls will grow up and not wear hijab? Or that cartoon characters might be seductive to some adults? Is this what Islam has become?' Heba Yosry, a teacher from nearby Cairo, Egypt, wrote on Twitter.
Iran has already imposed strict censorship laws on the country's film industry.
Physical interactions between men and women are banned, while the discussion of controversial topics are restricted.
Scenes which are deemed immoral or offensive to the regime are often censored, while films which are considered hostile to Islamic values are prohibited.
Ultra-conservative figures have called for the end of foreign films being shown at the cinema in Iran where woman are not wearing the hijab.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a fatwa stating that women in cartoons and animations must wear hijab— Emily Schrader - אמילי שריידר (@emilykschrader) February 22, 2021
And the world wants to give this man nuclear power?!https://t.co/R5PLdqsuAQ
Khamenei himself has said that programs broadcast from the West led to 'misleading thoughts and factual misrepresentations'.
Women in Iran have faced persecution if they do not wear a hijab. Under Islamic law in force in Iran since its 1979 revolution, women must wear a hijab that covers the head and neck and that conceals their hair.
Last October, a young woman was arrested in central Iran for 'insulting the Islamic hijab', after a video appeared to show her cycling without a veil.
'A person who had recently violated norms and insulted the Islamic veil in this region has been arrested,' Mojataba Raei, governor of Najafabad, told IRNA news agency.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.