Iranian authorities intensify enforcing obligatory hijab law, shuts sites for 'violations'
Authorities in Iran intensified the enforcement of the obligatory hijab law while Iranians went on vacation during the two-week Nowruz holidays as the domestic tourism industry experienced its most busy days.
Every year, millions of Iranians visit tourist destinations across the country during vacations that begin on the last days of the winter; however, this year, since mid-March, several tourist residentials have been shut down by the police because of not following the Islamic hijab law.
On 19 March, this year's Nowruz holiday officially began, and since then, several reports have been published about the closure of hotels, guesthouses and tourist complexes in the cities of Isfahan, Shiraz, Kashan and Yazd.
According to the Etemad daily, with orders from the judiciary, the police closed at least 17 tourist residentials for giving service to unveiled women before the beginning of the official holidays.
On Saturday, the state-owned news agency IRNA reported that a café in Ganjnameh, a tourist attraction in the city of Hamedan, was shut down because its clients defied the hijab law and "provided a ground for dancing and singing".
On 28 March, BBC Persian broadcast citizen journalists' videos showing ecotourism facilities in Varzeneh, a village near Isfahan, closed based on orders by provincial judiciary authorities.
Meanwhile, a video went viral on Faris social media from Shiraz, one of the top tourist cities in Iran, demonstrating security forces in plain clothes banning women without a head scarf from entering the famous Eram Garden.
In this video, the Eram Garden's security officer was heard greeting women with Islamic hijabs and preventing women without a head scarf, telling them: "the precondition for being allowed to enter the garden is to follow Islamic hijab law".
Reports from Afif-Abad Garden in the central city of Yazd said that a quarrel between citizens who asked a woman to follow the hijab law led to a physical confrontation. According to local media, three individuals who defied the mandatory hijab were arrested in relation to the fight in Afif-Abad.
Another video from the holy city of Qom showed another confrontation between women supporting and challenging the obligatory hijab law.
In July 2022, the hardline president Ebrahim Raisi ordered law enforcement to implement the hijab law across the country strictly. Since then, the law has been at the centre of public debate.
Following that order, the death of the 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in morality police custody in September caused four months of nationwide demonstrations. However, following the brutal crackdown on protests, the authorities are gearing up to enforce the hijab law.