Iranian town removes statue of woman for un-Islamic dress
The latest target of Iran’s compulsory hijab law: a statue recently installed on a street in Gorgan, in the northeast of the country. On March 25, city officials removed the sculpture because of a woman whose veil and dress was deemed inappropriate.
The sculpture was entitled “Together Alone” and was put up in Gorgan, a city in the northeast of Iran this year. The piece depicted members of a family sitting together on a bench, but each of them is staring down at a cell phone. The goal of the installation was to draw into question the role of social media and smartphones at home.
But the controversy stirred up over this sculpture did not centre around its message, but rather the style of dress of a woman in the art piece.
Some ultra-conservatives, including the deputy for social affairs, were quick to criticise the city of Gorgan, saying that the sculpture promoted un-Islamic dress. The hair of the woman depicted in the sculpture is visible as is some of her ankle.
However, the woman in the sculpture’s style of dress is similar to the way many women in Iran dress in order to comply with mandatory hijab policies.
Still, dealing with mounting pressure from conservatives, the city chose to take down the sculpture, angering many residents and activists.
طالبان وطنی مجسمه گرگان را برداشت pic.twitter.com/rD9M042dRW— Nik (@Mnik45Nik) March 26, 2022
مجسمه یک زن در گرگان به دلیل "بدحجابی" برداشته شد!— ضد آخوند! (@NP0L91LfZGB8S0j) March 26, 2022
شانس آورد اعدام نشد. pic.twitter.com/EN33iweFM6
Safarali Payinmahali, the Gorgan city council chairman, told local media on March 26, “In light of the increasing demands, we took down the statue and, after modifying it, we will install it again in the near future.”
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‘Morality police’ open half a million dress code cases each year
Iranian women have been defying compulsory hijab laws – put in place after the 1979 Islamic Revolution and establishment of the Islamic Republic – by protesting, campaigning online and pushing the limits of the dress code in the streets.
At the same time, Iranian officials have countered this by promoting conservative Islamic dress codes with government-funded propaganda as well as “morality police”, or guidance patrol, who arrest offending women, sometimes violently.
Around 3,670 women went to court for dress code violations in 2013, according to the former spokesman for Iran’s interior ministry, Hossain Ali Amiri. That is the last year that those statistics have been made available. However, Amiri, in a rare interview in 2013, said that Iran’s Guidance Patrol open more than half a million cases each year.
Usually, women who break the Islamic dress code must pay a fine of up to 500,000 tomans (around €20) and make a legal commitment to follow the hijab law in the future as well as attend courses about proper Islamic behaviour. Some, however, find themselves in court or even prison for dress code violations.