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Iran using surveillance cameras to identify women breaking hijab rule

Young women in hijabs (Cary Bass-Deschenes/Flickr)
September 03, 2022

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

An Iranian official says footage from surveillance cameras in public places such as subways will be used to help identify and fine women who fail to adhere to the country’s mandatory hijab rule.

In a video published on social media, Mohammad Saleh Hashemi Golpayegani said this measure is based on the July 5 order by President Ebrahim Raisi to enforce the so-called hijab and chastity law. It is the first time that an official in Iran has publicly admitted the presence of facial recognition technology in public surveillance cameras.

Golpayegani is the secretary of Iran’s Headquarters for Enjoining Right and Forbidding Evil, which is responsible for determining and enforcing behavioral models in society.

Golpayegani has previously said that women who publish their pictures without a hijab on the Internet will be deprived of some social rights for a period of six months to one year.

Authorities in Iran are increasingly cracking down on women deemed to be in violation of wearing the hijab, which is mandatory in public in Iran.

In recent weeks, women judged not to be in compliance have been barred from entering government offices, banks, or riding on public transportation.

The notorious Guidance Patrols, or morality police, have become increasingly active and violent. Videos have emerged on social media appearing to show officers detaining women, forcing them into vans, and whisking them away.

The hijab — the head covering worn by Muslim women — became compulsory in public for Iranian women and girls over the age of 9 after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Many Iranian women have flouted the rule over the years and pushed the boundaries of what officials say is acceptable clothing.