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Iran’s supreme leader says women in cartoons must wear hijabs

Unclear if ruling issued by Ali Khamenei will be enforced; foreign films showing unscarved women can be screened in Iran, but locally made productions are banned from doing so

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addresses the nation in a televised speech marking the birthday of Islam's Prophet Muhammad, in Tehran, Iran, November 3, 2020. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addresses the nation in a televised speech marking the birthday of Islam's Prophet Muhammad, in Tehran, Iran, November 3, 2020. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has declared that women depicted in cartoons or animated films must wear the hijab head covering.

According to the country’s Tasnim news agency, when asked on Saturday whether it is necessary for animated female characters to be portrayed with their hair covered, Khamenei answered that “observing hijab in animation is required due to the consequences of not wearing hijab.”

It was unclear whether the declaration would be enforced in any way.

Due to Teheran’s strict censorship laws, scenes deemed immoral or offensive are often censored, while films considered hostile to Islamic values are banned.

Iranian police officers detain a woman for not adhering to the strict Islamic dress code in Tehran on April 21, 2007. (AP Photo)

Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, it became mandatory for women to wear a hijab and modest clothing in public, a move enforced by the Islamic religious police of Iran, known as Guidance Patrol.

Iranian TV can show foreign films with unscarved women — although too much leg or cleavage gets blurred out or otherwise hidden.

But local programs must normally abide by strict rules in which no female hair can be shown, even for historical dramas or scenes set in a family home where real-life women do not cover their heads.

Iranian film-makers must obtain three separate authorizations: for the script, filming and release.

But the authorities admit that a majority of Iranians now own a satellite dish — even though they are technically illegal — beaming in uncensored programming from all over the world.

It is part of the steady erosion of strict Islamic rules — in practice, if not in theory — that has also seen headscarves pushed further and further back, especially in wealthier parts of Tehran.

AFP contributed to this report.

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