TEHRAN (Reuters) – Police have arrested 49 people this week in a northern Iranian city during a crackdown on “satanic” clothes, IRNA news agency reported Thursday.
The measures are the latest in a country-wide campaign against Western cultural influence in the Islamic Republic, where strict dress codes are enforced.
“Police confronted rascals and thugs who appeared in public wearing satanic fashions and unsuitable clothing,” Qaemshahr city police commander Mahmoud Rahmani told IRNA.
Rahmani also said that five barber shops were shut and 20 more warned for “promoting Western hairstyles.”
In the past, such crackdowns have lasted a few weeks or months, but the current campaign was launched in 2007 and has not let up.
It includes measures against men sporting spiky “Western” hairstyles or women wearing tight trousers and high boots.
Women are supposed to wear clothing that covers their hair and disguises the shape of their bodies. But some, particularly in cities, wear headscarves pushed back well beyond their hairlines and sport tight-fitting outfits.
Some analysts say the authorities fear such open acts of defiance against the Islamic Republic’s values could escalate if they go unchecked. This worries them when Iran is under pressure from the West over its disputed nuclear work, they say.
“Some individuals, not knowing what culture they are imitating, put on clothing that was designed by the enemies of this country,” Rahmani said.
“The enemies of this country are trying to divert our youth and breed them the way they want and deprive them of a healthy life,” he added.
Rahmani did not say how the offenders would be punished. Usual penalties are a warning or a fine.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has in the past suggested Iran’s enemies may try to stage a “soft” or “velvet” revolution by infiltrating corrupt culture or ideas.
(Reporting by Hashem Kalantari, Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Catherine Bosley and Kevin Liffey)