Iran issues warning to 62,000 'badly veiled' women

(AFP) Iranian police have issued warnings to 62,000 women who were "badly veiled" in the Shiite holy province of Qom as part of a clampdown on dress and behaviour, a newspaper said on Monday.

Around "62,000 women were warned for being badly veiled" in the province of Qom, Tehran Emrouz newspaper quoted provincial police chief Colonel Mehdi Khorasani as saying.

It was unclear whether all the women issued with warnings were from Qom or the tally included travellers passing through the province.

Khorasani said police had also confiscated around 100 cars for carrying improperly dressed women, adding that "encouraging such relaxations are among the objectives of the enemy."

The newspaper did not say during which period the warnings were issued.

The population of Qom is more than one million, with most of them concentrated in the city itself which is Shiite Iran's clerical nerve-centre.

By law, women in the Islamic republic must be covered from head to foot, with their hair completely veiled, and social interaction is banned between men and women who are not related.

Iran is known particularly for summer-time crackdowns on improperly dressed women but the issue has sparked debate after hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he "firmly" opposed the clampdown.

In a televised interview earlier this month, he said he was "firmly against such actions. It is impossible for such actions to be successful."

His remarks have drawn the wrath of fellow hardliners and several top clerics who have criticised him for opposing the police crackdown.

Iran's morality police have returned to the streets in past weeks, confiscating cars whose male drivers harass women, local media say, without clarifying what amounts to harassment.

The reports say the police or hardline militiamen have been stopping cars with young men or women inside to question their relationship.

The Islamic dress code for women is also being more strictly enforced.



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