Viral video of argument between cleric, woman over hijab use sparks controversy in Iran


Tehran, Mar 12 (EFE).- A video showing a woman in Iran confronting a cleric who took pictures of her not wearing the Islamic veil properly has gone viral.

The video has sparked more controversy over the Islamic Republic’s draconian dress code for women, less than two years after unprecedented, nationwide civil protests broke out in the wake of 22-year-old Iranian woman Mahsa Amini’s death in custody following her arrest for not wearing the hijab correctly.

Four people have been arrested for leaking footage of the incident, Iranian state media outlet Tasnim reported on Tuesday.

The video went viral on social media and was published by opposition media over the weekend.

In the security camera footage, the woman’s headscarf slips off while holding her baby at a clinic in the religious city of Qom.

She angrily confronts the cleric when she sees him pointing his camera phone at her, and the tense discussion escalates after other women in the clinic join her in demanding that he delete the pictures.

After he refuses, one of the women manages to grab his phone. The cleric pursues her, leading to a scuffle in the corridor of the clinic.

Iranian authorities on Tuesday said three of the four people arrested for leaking the video have been jailed.

“The initial investigation by law enforcement and security agencies revealed that these individuals intended to take advantage of this incident to create division and tension by sending the video to enemy media,” Qom Prosecutor General Hasan Gharib said, as reported by Tasnim news agency.

Numerous figures in Iran have condemned the cleric’s behavior for antagonizing the woman and escalating the situation.

“If a cleric wants to guide me, he should guide me in such a way that I can be guided, not so that I hate him and his beliefs,” said the representative of Tabriz in Parliament, Masoud Pezeshkian, according to the opposition daily Shargh.

Iran-based political scientist Afifeh Abedi said on X that “any woman or girl at any time and place would be against a stranger – whether male, female, mullah, or non-mullah – taking pictures of her secretly and would demand that her photo be deleted.”

“She is a woman who has dignity and zeal,” said Abedi, who unsuccessfully ran in Iran’s recent parliamentary elections calling for more freedoms for women.

Many Iranian women have stopped wearing the mandatory hijab as a form of protest and civil disobedience since Mahsa Amini’s died in police custody in September 2022 after she was arrested for improperly wearing the veil.

After crushing the initial wave of civil protests which were held under the slogan “Women, Life, Freedom”, Iranian authorities have been cracking down on women for not wearing the mandatory Islamic veil correctly.

Last week, Amnesty International said the regime was “waging a large-scale campaign to enforce repressive compulsory veiling laws through widespread surveillance of women and girls in public spaces and mass police checks targeting women drivers.”

“In a sinister attempt to wear down resistance to compulsory veiling in the wake of the ‘Woman Life Freedom’ uprising, Iran’s authorities are terrorizing women and girls by subjecting them to constant surveillance and policing, disrupting their daily lives and causing them immense mental distress,” said Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“Their draconian tactics span from stopping women drivers on the road and carrying out mass confiscation of their vehicles to imposing inhumane flogging and prison sentences,” Eltahawy added. EFE

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