iran - AP - December 17 2010
Iranian women covering their faces with green niqabs in Noushabad, south of the capital Tehran, Iran, December 17, 2010. Photo by AP
Text size
related tags

In the face of the Iranian president's attempt at reforms, along with the sproutings of fashion rebellion by women, two-thirds of Iran's parliament members have written to Hassan Rohani urging him to enforce the Islamic dress code for women and resist Western cultural influences, AFP reported Sunday.

"One of the main areas of cultural invasion is in trying to change the way of life of Iranians regarding the veil. We ask that you give the necessary orders to enforce the law," wrote 195 members of the 290-strong parliament to the president.

Women's fashion is at the heart of the culture clash taking place in Iran. Law in the Islamic republic requires women of all religions to observe hijab: covering the hair and wearing loose-fitting clothes when outside. Yet instead of wearing the traditional chador that drapes the head and body, many Iranian women are pushing the boundaries by wearing a thinner head scarf, leggings and shirt.

Hundreds of women have posted photos of themselves dressing in violation of hijab on a Facebook page, "Stealthy Freedoms of Women in Iran," started by an Iranian expatriate woman in London. And in October, Rohani upset hardliners when he criticized the excesses of the "modesty police," saying, "We cannot take people to heaven by using whips."

But the reactionaries are pushing back. At the start of this month, Tehran police fanned out on major boulevards and stopped women in their cars and checked to see if they were obeying the dress code. And in the past two months, at least two demonstrations demanding strict adherence to hijab were held in the capital.