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Iran police start wider crackdown on un-Islamic dress

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iranian police have launched a more extensive crackdown on “social corruption” such as women flouting Islamic dress codes, the Farhang-e Ashti newspaper reported on Monday.

A woman looks on while attending Tehran's Friday prayers at a university April 11, 2008. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl

“In its wider crackdown which has started from Saturday, police will confront those who appear in public in an indecent way and will also seal off shops selling un-Islamic dress,” the newspaper said, quoting an unnamed police official.

The dress code imposed after Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution requires women to cover all their hair and wear long, loose-fitting clothes to disguise the shape of their bodies.

Violators can receive lashes, fines or imprisonment.

The authorities usually launch crackdowns before the hot summer months when women like to wear lighter clothing such as calf-length pants and brightly colored scarves pushed back to expose plenty of hair.

But enforcement of strict moral codes governing women’s dress became more strict since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad swept to power in 2005 with the backing of conservative clerics and the Basij religious forces who condemn such “un-Islamic” practices.

“Police will seize women with tight coats and cropped trousers and also men with Western-style hair cut will be arrested,” the newspaper said.

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Especially in the urban areas, many women ignore traditional head-to-toe black chadors. The Islamic dress code is less commonly challenged in poor suburbs and rural regions.

“Men with Western-style haircuts were confronted by police and also barber shops that gave them such haircuts were sealed off on Sunday,” said the daily.

Some women, testing the boundaries of the law by wearing tight clothes were also confronted by morality police, located mainly at the affluent northern Tehran squares.

“Police also swept through popular shopping centers, where such outfits are sold and some of those shops were sealed off,” the daily said.

Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Stephen Weeks