Two thirds of Iran's MPs ask for "total respect" of Islamic dress
Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Two thirds of Iran's MPs have written to the president urging him to take measures to ensure women correctly observe Islamic dress, denouncing Western cultural influence against the veil.
The 195 members of the 290-strong parliament who signed the letter in part blamed satellite television for feeding the trend, ISNA news agency reported on Sunday.
A defining feature of Iran's interpretation of Islamic law since the 1979 revolution, hijab obliges women to cover their hair and much of their body in loose clothing when outside, regardless of their religion.
A dedicated "morality police" has long handed out fines, verbal notices or even arrested women it considers are not properly observing the rules, but lawmakers have in recent months criticised lax enforcement.
In the letter, the MPs wrote: "One of the main areas of cultural invasion is in trying to change the way of life of Iranians regarding the veil. We ask that you give the necessary orders to enforce the law." Iran's parliament is dominated by conservative males.
However, President Hassan Rouhani, a self-declared moderate who was surprisingly elected last June, has expressed a desire to expand social freedoms -- to the disapproval of hardliners. In October, he asked police to be moderate when enforcing the hijab requirements and recently said, "We cannot take people to heaven by using whips," a remark that was condemned by conservatives.