Iran arrests 29 women as headscarf protests intensify

Iranian women have been forced to wear headscarves since the Islamic revolution of 1979. (AFP)
Updated 03 February 2018
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Iran arrests 29 women as headscarf protests intensify

TEHRAN: Tehran police have arrested 29 women for appearing in public without a headscarf as protests against the dress code in force since the Islamic revolution of 1979 intensify, Iranian media reported Friday.
Those arrested were accused of public order offenses and referred to the state prosecutor’s office, the Fars, ILNA and Tasnim news agencies reported without elaborating.
Chief prosecutor Mohammad Jafar Montazeri had played down the escalating protests on Wednesday, saying they were “trivial” and “childish” moves possibly incited by foreigners.
He had been asked about a woman detained earlier this week for standing on a pillar box in a busy street without the mandatory headscarf.
Unprecedented images of at least 11 women protesting the same way had been widely shared on social media.
A prominent human rights lawyer said on Tuesday that one of the detained women had her bail set at more than $100,000.
Montazeri said those flouting “hijab” rules — which require headscarves and modest clothing — must have been encouraged by outsiders.
But even religiously conservative Iranians have voiced support for the protests, with many saying that religious rules should be a personal choice.
At least two photos shared on Twitter on Wednesday showed women in traditional black chador robes, standing on pillar box with signs supporting freedom of choice for women.
One held a sign reading: “I love my hijab but I’m against compulsory hijab.”
Female activist Azar Mansouri, a member of the reformist Union of Islamic Iranian People party, said attempts to control female clothing had failed over many decades.
“Women show their opposition to such forceful approaches by their very clothing, from resisting covering their hair to wearing long boots and leggings,” she wrote in a series of tweets this week.
Women have increasingly flouted the Islamic republic’s clothing rules in recent years and often let their headscarves fall around their necks.
Morality police once rigidly enforced the rules, but are a much less common sight since President Hassan Rouhani came to power in 2013, promising greater civil liberties.
The protests appear to mirror that of a woman who stood in Tehran’s busy Enghelab (Revolution) Street in December without a headscarf and waving a white scarf on a stick.
She was reportedly kept in detention for nearly a month and has since kept a low profile.


Tunisian workers kidnapped in Libya: foreign ministry

Updated 16 February 2019
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Tunisian workers kidnapped in Libya: foreign ministry

TUNIS: Tunisians working near the Libyan capital Tripoli have been kidnapped by a militia, Tunisia’s foreign ministry said, and a diplomatic source told AFP the number abducted was 14.
“The foreign ministry is following the predicament of the Tunisian citizens... (who were) kidnapped by armed Libyan elements near Zawiya,” the ministry said on its Facebook page late on Friday.
A human rights activist said that the armed group responsible for Thursday’s kidnapping was seeking the release of one of its members held in Tunisia.