By Jaime Leon
Tehran, Feb 9 (EFE).- In Iran, headscarves and neck ties have remained symbols of the Islamic Revolution for 43 years. One garment for being mandatory while the other for being frowned upon.
The wearing of the hijab has become compulsory since the 1979 revolution led by Iran’s former supreme leader Ruhollah Khomeini, who referred to women not wearing it as “naked”.
Meanwhile, the neck tie was denounced as a sign of “Western decadence” and got banned after the Iranian monarchy was toppled and replaced by an Islamic republic.
Being an integral policy of the Islamic Republic, the headscarf is perhaps the greatest reminder that Khomeini’s theocratic ideas are still standing.
The ubiquitous headscarf, a garment that has become extremely rare to see a woman without in public, is mandatory under Iran’s strict dress code and violators will be imprisoned for up to two months or punished with 74 lashes.
But in defiance of the country’s strict law, many women have been wearing the hijab loosely, showing as much hair as they cover.
“The government has no right to force us to cover our hair,” Parisa, a 16-year-old girl, tells Efe.
Sanaz, another young woman, wonders: “Why do we have to cover up? Can’t men here control themselves?”
Besides the hijab, Iranian women are required to wear loose-fitting clothes like the chador, which is a long, loose cloak that leaves only the face uncovered.
Parisa and Sanaz’s views are not uncommon. The government’s own surveys show that a growing number of women are against the hijab.
Back in 1979 when Khomeini declared the hijab mandatory, women took to the streets to protest the decision for six days.
The former supreme leader backed down, but a year later he imposed a compulsory dress code that required women holding government posts to wear the hijab. In 1983, the hijab was forced on all women.
In recent years, there have been several protests against the garment, to which the regime has responded to with violence.
If the hijab is symbolizing Islam in Iran, the neck tie is considered a symbol of Western oppression and Christianity.
The selling of neck ties was banned after the revolution. The ban has eased recently as ties are seen displayed in some shops but rarely worn by men on the streets.
The manager of an Italian clothing store in Tehran explains that they hide the ties they sell when government inspectors come to the shop once or twice a month.
Despite some easing in recent years, the regime is unlikely to change its stance on the hijab and tie.
Lifting compulsory hijab would be a severe defeat for the regime, says journalist Afshin Molavi in his book ‘The Soul of Iran: A Nation’s Struggle for Freedom’.
After all, Khomeini went so far as to claim that the revolution succeeded just by covering women’s hair.