A Tehran prosecutor says a woman who removed her obligatory Islamic headscarf in public in late December has been sentenced to 24 months in prison.
Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency on Wednesday quoted prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi as saying the unidentified woman took off her headscarf in Tehran’s Enghelab Street to “encourage corruption through the removal of the hijab in public.”
The woman — subsequently known as the “Girl of Enghelab Street” — became an icon for many women.
In February, police detained 29 women who removed their headscarves as part of an anti-hijab campaign known as “White Wednesdays.”
The police say the campaign, advocated by Persian-language satellite TV networks based abroad, purportedly encourages women participants to take their white headscarves off on Wednesdays.
Women showing their hair in public in Iran are usually sentenced to far shorter terms of two months or less, and fined $25.
Iranian law in place since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 stipulates that all women, Iranian or foreign, Muslim or non-Muslim, must be fully veiled in public at all times.
But the zeal of the country’s morality police has declined in the past two decades, and a growing number of Iranian women in Tehran and other large cities often wear loose veils that reveal their hair.
In some areas of the capital, women are regularly seen driving cars with veils draped over their shoulders.
Dolatabadi said he would no longer accept such behavior, and has ordered the impounding of vehicles driven by socially rebellious women.
The prosecutor said some “tolerance” was possible when it came to women who wear the veil loosely, “but we must act with force against people who deliberately question the rules on the Islamic veil,” according to Mizan Online.
Earlier this month, Iran’s vice president for women’s affairs, Massoumeh Ebtekar, insisted the government opposed using “force” to ensure women wear the hijab, after the spate of protests stirred debate over the mandatory headscarf.