The Iranian Parliament has adopted a bill to inflict harsher punishments on women who defy the "mandatory Islamic tradition" of wearing a headscarf in public and those who support them. The move comes just days after the death anniversary of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was killed after being detained by the morality police for breaching the country's dress code. Her death in custody had triggered months of protests demanding the ouster of Iran's theocracy.
What does the bill call for?
According to reports, the bill also increases penalties for company owners who employ women who refuse to wear the required hijab as well as activists who campaign against it. If the violation is committed in an organised manner, offenders might face up to 10 years in prison, the bill stated. The bill, which was approved by 152 lawmakers in Iran's 290-seat parliament, requires ratification by the Guardian Council, a clerical body that serves as a constitutional watchdog. It would take effect for a preliminary period of three years.
Protests in Iran
The demonstrations sparked by Amini's death on September 16, 2022, subsided early this year following a harsh crackdown on dissent that resulted in the deaths of over 500 protestors and the detention of over 22,000 more. But many women continued to flaunt the rules on wearing hijab, prompting a new campaign to enforce them over the summer.
Iran's clerical rulers view the hijab law as a key pillar of the Islamic Republic and blamed the protests on Western nations, without providing evidence. The protesters said they were motivated by anger over the dress code as well as what they see as the corruption and poor governance of the country's ruling clerics.
Gunman kills cleric in Iran
In a separate incident on Wednesday, a gunman shot a cleric to death in the northern Iranian town of Sejas. Police detained the assailant, and authorities said the motive was a personal dispute, according to the semiofficial Fars and Tasnim news agencies. Several clerics were attacked at the height of the protests. An armed guard at a bank shot and killed a senior Shiite cleric in April.
(With AP inputs)