Iran’s minister of cultural heritage, tourism and handicrafts has suggested that the authorities' crackdown on women without a mandatory headscarf in public places could be a "tourist attraction."
In an interview with ILNA news agency on May 3, Ezzatollah Zarghami dismissed the possibility that the brutal handling of women without hijab could deter foreigners from visiting Iran.
"Anything can be a tourist attraction for a foreign tourist; they would even take pictures of it," Zarghami said.
The minister also expressed satisfaction that foreign tourists strictly adhere to the Islamic Republic’s mandatory hijab rules.
The Iranian authorities have intensified their efforts to impose the compulsory headscarf in recent weeks as more women flout the Islamic Republic's strict dress code.
All women in Iran must conceal their hair with a headscarf and wear loose fitting trousers under their coats while in public.
But a growing number of women have appeared in public without hijab since 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in police custody in September, sparking nationwide protests demanding fundamental economic, social and political changes. Amini had been arrested for allegedly wearing a headscarf improperly.
Some defiant women were arrested, summoned by the authorities and faced legal cases, while hundreds of small businesses, including cafes and restaurants, and shopping malls were shut down in recent months for allegedly failing to enforce the country's hijab law on their customers.
The unrest has badly affected Iran’s tourism industry.
In January, the head of the Iranian Tour Operators Association lamented that there were "no reservations for European tourists.”
"We don't have any reservations for the spring, and it seems that international tourists have no plans to come to Iran," Ebrahim Porfaraj said.