Iran's police chief Ahmad Reza Radan clamps down on media coverage of hijab enforcement

Iran's police chief Ahmad Reza Radan clamps down on media coverage of hijab enforcement
Amid a harsh crackdown against women defying the strict Islamic Sharia Law regarding women's outfits, Iran's police chief demonstrated severe intolerance towards media coverage of the police's campaign to implement the hijab law.
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A screenshot of the front page of the Iranian newspaper, Hamshahri. [TNA]

Media analysts in Iran said that last week's move by Iran's police force to take to court the ultra-conservative daily Hamshahri showed that the country's new police chief Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Radan would not tolerate the lowest level of media freedom, even for the outlets supporting him.

On 29 April, the Hamshahri daily, owned by Tehran municipality, published a series of articles and opinion pieces defending Radan for tasking the police forces to implement the obligatory hijab law in the country strictly.

Hamshahri, now under the control of journalists close to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), ran the special issue at a time when Radan was ridiculed by Iranians who defied the mandatory hijab law.

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Under the headline: "The General's Loneliness", Hamshahri praised the country's infamous police chief and criticised governmental offices such as the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution and the parliament for what it labelled as "not fulfilling their duties to implement the hijab law".

On its front page, Hamshahri wrote that the police were left alone in the "fight against those defying the hijab law" and published a large illustration of Radan's portrait. However, the illustration caused daily problems, and the police force department filed a complaint against Hamshahri because they found the illustration "insulative".

After the court hearing, the police department announced it had removed the complaint because "Hamshahri accepted it had made an unintentional mistake in using an inappropriate image for Brigadier General Radan".

In an editorial, the daily's hardliner editor-in-chief Mohsen Mehdian expressed his surprise at being prosecuted for supporting Radan.

"From that headline and those articles, how did they assume we meant to insult [Radan]? Did you not see our full support and only saw the illustration?" wrote Mehdian, urging the police force to show more tolerance to media.

A media expert and academic, Reza Hashemi Zadeh, also blasted the police force for not tolerating even the media supporting it.

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"These dear people seem to have become impatient with very low tolerance. Dear brother brigadier, Hamshahri is on your side!" Hashemi Zadeh wrote on Twitter.

Several other Iranian Twitter users also used the occasion to renew mocking Radan.

"I think this illustration is much prettier than him in reality," one Iranian Twitter user, @binam1418, wrote.  

"Radan saw his photo on Hamshahri's front page and thought it was a cartoon," another user suggested.