Moderate Iranian presidential candidate criticizes headscarf policy

The moderate Iranian presidential candidate Masoud Pezeshkian has expressed cautious criticism of the repressive measures used to enforce Iran’s headscarf laws.

Today, women are penalized because their clothing does not comply with the regulations, the former health minister said in an interview published on Tuesday in the newspaper Hammihan.

“Were we to blame for not educating them properly, or are they to blame? We are to blame and must solve the problem ourselves.”

More and more Iranian women are now deliberately ignoring the strict dress code, something that religious hardliners are trying to combat.

A new law providing for draconian punishments has been passed by parliament, but has not yet come into force. The police stepped up their crackdown on offences in April.

Pezeshkian said that you could not ignore people’s rights and expect them to stay quiet. “When people’s rights are disregarded, they protest. If we understand this and implement it in society, we can solve the problems.”

Iran’s Guardian Council, a powerful supervisory body, approved the list of presidential candidates on Sunday. Six politicians are now allowed to run in the election on June 28.

Among the conservatives, parliamentary speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf and Saeed Jalili, a former chief negotiator in the nuclear talks, are considered the leading candidates.

The election follows the death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash on May 19.

Many people in Iran are disillusioned in the face of political repression, an economic crisis and the failed attempts at reform in recent decades.

In the autumn of 2022, the death of the young Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini sparked nationwide protests against the strict Islamic system of rule. Voter turnout in this year’s parliamentary elections reached a record low of around 40%.

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