Dec 12, 2007
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Female boots ban angers Iran MPs

Dec 12, 2007

TEHRAN, Dec 12, 2007 (AFP) - Several clerics sitting as MPs in the Iranian parliament have criticised the Tehran police chief for showing excessive zeal by ordering a crackdown on women's high boots, a newspaper said on Wednesday, December 12th.

An Iranian woman wearing in modern fashion crosses a street in Tehran in 2006 - Photo : Behrouz Mehri/AFP

"No officials have the right to mix religion with emotions and issue decrees and implement them on behalf of clerics," clerical MP Seyed Hadi Tabatabai told the reformist Etemad newspaper. "Such behaviour tarnishes Islam."

The police last week launched what was termed a "winter" crackdown on unIslamic dressing, to follow an unusually vigorous summer drive against women whose clothing was deemed overly flimsy.

Tehran police chief Ahmad Reza Radan said women who wear high boots with their trousers tucked-in would be targeted by the moral police, as well as those who sport hats instead of headscarves and short tight winter coats.

Radan had described such fashions as an example of "Tabarroj", an Islamic term which means revealing one's beauty and bodily contours to unrelated men.

"A Muslim woman wearing high boots with a coat and other coverings does not contradict Islam," the daily quoted MP Mohammad Taghi Rahbar as saying.

"The clerics should define tabarroj and Commander Radan's comments are not within police responsibilities. Cultural bodies should make decisions in this regard," the conservative cleric said.

Iran in April launched what has proved to be its most severe moral crackdown in years, handing out warnings to thousands of women flouting the Islamic dress code by wearing figure-hugging short coats and skimpy headscarves.

In the past years, it has become fashionable for liberal Iranian women to wear high boots over their trousers during the cold winter months.

"Wearing boots over trousers, according to Sharia (Islmaic law), is tabarroj and an example of bad dressing, which will be confronted," Radan said, cited by the ISNA news agency.

The drive has been criticised by some moderates but the police have insisted the crackdown is popular with the public and necessary to improve security in society.

"I am sorry that you are concerned about the boots of a few rich women," was the response of hardline femmale MP Eshrat Shaegh, referring to the media interest in the ban.

"I am worried about women who do not have meat on their tables and no clothes on their children," she said.

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