Women without a mandatory hijab are now banned from museums and historical sites, in yet another move showing the authorities’ determination to enforce the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code.
Morteza Adibzadeh, head of the General Directorate of Museums, announced the new restriction in a circular dated April 24, citing the "protection of cultural affairs and public safety" as the reason for the ban.
All women in Iran must conceal their hair with a headscarf and wear loose fitting trousers under their coats while in public.
But the number of women defying these rules has increased since the September 2022 death in custody of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, for allegedly flouting it. A wave of protests demanding fundamental economic, social and political changes swept across the country after Amini’s death.
The government is using various means to enforce mandatory hijab rules, including deprivation of social services and pressure on businesses. Lawyers and human rights activists have argued that such moves have no legal basis.
The owner of a clothing store in the south-western city of Behbahan reportedly received SMSs on April 22 warning her against providing services to customers without hijab.
On the Persian Gulf island of Qeshm, the Friday prayers leader recently visited commercial centers and ordered the sealing of shops where goods were being sold to women without a head covering. Mohsen Burhani, a lawyer and university professor, tweeted that this action was "illegal."