It is a cruel twist of fate that Ahmedreza Radan, who served as the head of Tehran Police 16 years ago, is now leading the charge in the crackdown on women with loose hijab, a top priority for the Islamic Republic’s special police units.
As commander of Iran's police force, Radan boasts of using the latest equipment to identify those who refuse to wear a headscarf.
On April 8, 2007, when Radan was the commander of the Greater Tehran Police Force, he held a press conference to announce a plan to enforce hijab regulations in the capital.
In his justification for the plan, Radan claimed that people who wear clothing that deviates from so-called social norms “offend citizens in various ways.”
He argued that "improper hijab harms moral security, undermines internal security and disrupts societal relationships.”
During the press conference, Radan listed examples of what the police considered to be indecent clothing, including short pants, small scarves that do not cover the hair, tight and short coats and tight dresses.
“In the initial phase, our focus will be on women who don’t observe hijab rules, and our actions will be based on a series of scientific data and polls. Once the project is complete and we have diagnosed the situation, we will proceed accordingly,” he said.
Based on vague and subjective standards, many women have been humiliated, insulted and even beaten by police over the years.
Radan used the same justification for enforcing hijab regulations when he assumed the position of commander of the Police Force of the Islamic Republic.
Sixteen years after Radan first targeted women deemed to be "improperly veiled" in Tehran, he drew a line in the sand for women who refused to comply with mandatory hijab laws.
He announced during a televised interview that, starting on April 15, forces under his command will begin patrolling “public roads, cars and commercial establishments.”
“Anyone found to be in violation of hijab laws in these areas will be...taken to court for prosecution,” he warned.
Patrolling Streets from the Green Movement to Mahsa Protests
From 2007 to 2014, during Radan's tenure as the commander of Tehran’s police force, officers patrolled the streets each spring and summer to combat “bad hijab.”
While Radan justified the use of increased forces by the need to promote morality, it was widely known that the deployment of police personnel was intended to increase urban security.
In 2010, Radan called for demonstrators to gather on the first anniversary of a government supporters' march following the 2009 disputed elections.
He launched a plan to intensify Morality Police patrols in Tehran and other major cities, and even spread rumors that "relationship patrols" would be set up.
In 2012, Radan began targeting women wearing “bad hijab” in cars.
As the government's enforcement of hijab rules becomes more stringent, it appears that Radan's primary goal is to increase police presence in alleyways, streets, shopping malls and public areas.
In recent weeks, official and unofficial reports and images have emerged showing women without hijab being deprived of services in the subway and banks, while stores, cafes, restaurants, shopping centers and entertainment venues were sealed.
These actions are expected to intensify as temperatures rise, fueling further dissatisfaction among the people who have spent six months protesting.
The Islamic Republic views hijab as a matter of security, with its leader Ali Khamenei claiming the dress code is dictated by “Sharia and politics."
Advanced technology to deal with hijab
During the protests following the September 2022 death of Mahsa Amini in police custody, the Islamic Republic resorted to using high-quality CCTV cameras to identify protesters.
Now, the head of the Islamic Republic’s police has announced that "advanced technology and equipment" will be used to identify women who do not wear mandatory hijab in public.
Although traffic cameras were previously used to fine drivers for not wearing hijab, this practice had not been officially announced.
It has been reported that police are sending warning messages with a photo to women who do not wear hijab in their cars.
The Faraja Information Center confirmed this, saying that "smart cameras” will help identify violators of the hijab law, thanks to existing databases from civil registries, banks, police and judiciary.
Police will then send an SMS to the violators after receiving her address and phone number.
The bitter irony is that, in response to the police's plan to deal with “bad hijab,” the public has said that "thugs, thieves, and drug dealers enjoy more freedom than women with no hijab.”
And despite the installation of security cameras, those behind a wave of poisonings in schools have not been identified.
Stigmatizing Women without Hijab
Radan's recent statements reveal that, despite spending nearly a decade in the Strategic Studies Center of the Police Force, his attitudes toward women have remained unchanged.
In 2007, he asserted that individuals who do not wear hijab suffer from “personality disorders and moral deviance.”
He also classified women who do not take mandatory hijab seriously into three groups: those "without identity," those "mentally ill," and those with "ethical disorders and deviations."
“Do not set the country on fire”
Civil rights activist Mehrangiz Kaar has written an article for IranWire in which he warned the police commander against setting the country on fire by obeying the orders of a “stubborn” leader.
Kaar said that it is "forbidden to obey" a leader who ignores reality and warned that Iranian society is a “powder keg waiting to be ignited.”
Kaar accused the police commander of being under the influence of an “inflexible” man who funds the police forces’ “wealth, rent and status” with the money of “the very women and their supporters they are oppressing.”