‘Bad hijab’ link to acid attacks on Iranian women

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IRAN, Tehran : An Iranian Jewish woman performs her prayers during Hanukkah, the festival of lights, at Abrishami synagogue in downtown Tehran on November 28, 2013. Present for more than 2,500 years in Persia, Iranian Jews have lost more than 70 percent of their 80,000 to 100,00 population who lived in Iran prior to the 1979 Islamic revolution, today Iran is home to some 8,750 Jews, according to a 2011 census. They are scattered across the country, but are mostly in the capital Tehran, Isfahan in the center, and Shiraz in the south. AFP PHOTO/BEHROUZ MEHRI
IRAN, Tehran : An Iranian Jewish woman performs her prayers during Hanukkah, the festival of lights, at Abrishami synagogue in downtown Tehran on November 28, 2013. Present for more than 2,500 years in Persia, Iranian Jews have lost more than 70 percent of their 80,000 to 100,00 population who lived in Iran prior to the 1979 Islamic revolution, today Iran is home to some 8,750 Jews, according to a 2011 census. They are scattered across the country, but are mostly in the capital Tehran, Isfahan in the center, and Shiraz in the south. AFP PHOTO/BEHROUZ MEHRI

TEHRAN, October 19, 2014 (AFP) – A series of acid attacks on women in the historic Iranian city of Isfahan has raised fears and prompted rumours that the victims were targeted for not being properly veiled.

Police have declined to comment on a motive but suspects have been arrested and an investigation is ongoing, General Hossein Ashtari was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

He said four acid attacks had been reported in Isfahan, 450 kilometres (280 miles) south of Tehran, but he gave no other details.

The violence led to chatter on social networks that there had been up to 13 acid attacks against women drivers who were “badly veiled” with accompanying warnings against leaving car windows open.

Such incidents have risen in recent years in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, with the abusers claiming they punished women for “sullying” their family “honour” by committing “indecent” behaviour.

Under Islamic law in force in Iran since the 1979 revolution, women must wear loose clothing, known as hijab, that covers the head and neck.

Recent years, however, have seen many wear a thin veil that hardly covers the hair and tight clothing or coats reaching mid-thigh — an ensemble often denounced by conservatives as “bad hijab” — instead of a traditional chador that covers the whole body.

A senior cleric of Isfahan, considered Iran’s top tourist attraction for its carpets, ancient mosques and giant square — second only in size to Tiananmen Square in Beijing — condemned the attacks.

“Such an act under any pretext is reprehensible,” Hojatoleslam Mohammad Taghi Rahbar, a Friday prayers leader, told the ISNA news agency.

“Even if a woman goes out into the street in the worst way, no one has the right to do such a thing,” he said.

A fearful resident of the city was quoted by ISNA as saying: “I roll the windows closed and I panic every time I hear the sound of a motorcycle approaching.”

Iranian MPs have written to President Hassan Rouhani in recent months to demand that police better enforce wearing of the veil.

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