Iran MPs demand stronger veil enforcement

Updated 15 June 2014
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Iran MPs demand stronger veil enforcement

TEHRAN: Two thirds of Iran’s MPs have written to the president urging him to take measures to ensure women correctly observe Islamic dress, denouncing Western cultural influence against the veil.
The 195 members of the 290-strong parliament who signed the letter in part blamed satellite television for feeding the trend, ISNA news agency reported on Sunday.
A defining feature of Iran’s interpretation of Islamic law since the 1979 revolution, hijab obliges women to cover their hair and much of their body in loose clothing when outside, regardless of their religion.
A dedicated “morality police” has long handed out fines, verbal notices or even arrested women it considers are not properly observing the rules, but lawmakers have in recent months criticized lax enforcement.
In the letter, the MPs wrote: “One of the main areas of cultural invasion is in trying to change the way of life of Iranians regarding the veil. We ask that you give the necessary orders to enforce the law.”
Iran’s parliament is dominated by conservative males.
However, President Hassan Rouhani, a self-declared moderate who was surprisingly elected last June, has expressed a desire to expand social freedoms — to the disapproval of hard-liners.
In October, he asked police to be moderate when enforcing the hijab requirements and recently said, “We cannot take people to heaven by using whips,” a remark that was condemned by conservatives.
Rather than wearing a full length traditional “chador” that drapes the head and body, many women wear a thinner head scarf, leggings and shirt.
Police in Tehran earlier this month launched a new drive against non-compliance of the female dress code. Officers were deployed on the capital’s biggest roads, and women — drivers and passengers — checked.
The MPs letter and push for stronger enforcement coincides with an online campaign in which hundreds of Iranian women posted pictures of themselves flouting the dress code inside Iran.
The Facebook page “Stealthy Freedoms of Women in Iran,” was launched by a London-based Iranian woman who said she wanted a debate on having the right to choose to wear the hijab. The campaign did not generate a reaction from the government.
At least two protests to demand enforcement of hijab have taken place in Tehran in the past two months.


In Damascus, war amputees walk again on Syrian-made prosthetics

Updated 22 July 2018
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In Damascus, war amputees walk again on Syrian-made prosthetics

  • Tens of thousands of people have lost limbs in Syria’s seven-year conflict
  • Every day, dozens of patients arrive from across Syria, whether they have lost limbs in the war or as a result of illness

DAMASCUS: Propped up by a mobility frame in a rehabilitation center in Syria’s capital, Abdulghani carefully inches forward on two artificial legs, as he walks for the first time in over a year.
“I want to be able to stand on my own two feet again,” says the 48-year-old veterinarian, his anxious son trailing him across the busy ward.
A specialist also carefully monitors double amputee Abdulghani’s progress, as he gets a feel for the locally made prosthetic limbs.
“I’m doing my best so that I can help myself and do the job I love,” says the father-of-seven from the central city of Hama, around 190 kilometers (120 miles) from Damascus, preferring not to give his second name.
Tens of thousands of people have lost limbs in Syria’s seven-year conflict.
And Abdulghani is one of hundreds helped back on his feet by the Damascus physical rehabilitation center — for free.
Patients of all ages try on artificial limbs for size, as staff bring brand new prosthetics from a nearby room.
Abdulghani lost both his legs in March last year, after being hit during shelling as he rode home on his motorbike from a job vaccinating livestock.
“After I was injured, I felt really desperate. I couldn’t move and I constantly needed help... It was a lot to bear,” he says.
“I was deeply embarrassed for my son whenever I had to go anywhere,” adds Abdulghani.
A doctor in Hama referred Abdulghani to the Damascus center, which is run by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent with support from the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Every day, dozens of patients arrive from across Syria, whether they have lost limbs in the war or as a result of illness.
“Right now I’m in the final phase — being fitted with artificial limbs and practicing” walking, Abdulghani says.
“In a week, I should be back on my legs again.”
Across the ward, a younger man tries to walk with a new artificial leg, his hands gripping rails running along a ramp for support.
A boy lies nearby on a bed, as a medic fits a prosthetic sock over his partially amputated leg, before fitting a replacement limb below the knee.
A World Health Organization report said last year that 86,000 Syrians had suffered wounds that led to amputation.
In an adjacent room, a Syrian prosthetist and his assistant put the final touches to plastic and metal limbs, supervised by an ICRC expert.
A newly finished artificial leg sits on an immaculately tidy work bench, under a board of neatly aligned screwdrivers and other tools.
Legs and arms of various sizes await the outside world, labelled with the names of their new owners.
The center started making its own prosthetic limbs in 2010, director Nadeer Kanaan says, but became more active after the civil war began the following year.
The number of amputees “increased due to the crisis, accidents, gunshots, (shell and rocket) fragments and land mines,” Kanaan says.
Production jumped from 250 artificial limbs in 2014 to double that last year — and since May, the center’s workers have been churning out 50 a month.
The facility mainly specializes in making prosthetics for people whose legs have been amputated above and below the knee, says 28 year-old supervisor Ayat Ezzadeen.
“Sometimes a patient turns up who’s really down, but we give them an artificial limb and they perk up,” she says.
Amani, 10, is wearing new brand-new pink-laced trainers for a second practice session with her new leg.
She comes from the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, where the Daesh group has lost significant ground in recent years.
The jihadists planted land mines as they retreated under pressure from the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces on one front and Russia-backed Syrian regime troops on another.
Amani “went out of the house to play in our village and a mine exploded, causing her leg to be amputated below the knee,” the girl’s 28-year-old aunt says.
“Thank God, she will now walk again.”