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Iran Publishes Report Saying 49% of Iranians Against Compulsory Veil

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has waded into a highly charged debate over the country’s mandatory hijab law, abruptly releasing a three-year-old report suggesting that nearly half of Iranians were opposed to the government dictating what women should wear.

The release of the report on Sunday by the Iranian Center for Strategic Studies — a research arm of the President’s office — came just days after 29 people were arrested by police in the capital Tehran for their involvement in protests against the headscarf law.

Women across Iran have been removing their hijabs in public to protest Iran’s strict Islamic dress code in recent weeks. The movement gained momentum amid a wave of anti-government demonstrations late last year, sparked by concerns over rising living costs and a stagnant economy.

It’s not the first time women in Iran have rallied against the law. In 1979, thousands of women protested in the streets of Tehran against the Islamic government’s hijab ruling.

In 2014, decades after the law was enforced, the Iranian Student’s Polling Center took to the same streets to ask men and women whether wearing the Islamic veil was a personal issue and if the government should not interfere.

The poll, which is at the heart of the report, found that 49.2% of 1,167 respondents said it was a private matter.
The timing of the report’s release, as Iranian women renew their push for equal rights and social change, pits President Rouhani, a moderate cleric by Iranian standards, head-to-head against the country’s hardliners.
“This could be Rouhani’s attempt to be seen as someone who can listen to the Iranian people, compared to other politicians who are perhaps impinging their ideological will on the people,” Sanam Vakil, an associate fellow at Chatham House who studies Iran, told CNN. “People might appreciate that he’s releasing this information, but will ask if it will actually result in anything.”
Read full article by Eliza Mackintosh on CNN, February 5, 2018.

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