TEHRAN — Seventy-one Iranian women "improperly" dressed were prevented from boarding flights in recent months, an airport official said on Monday, as a police crackdown on the behaviour of young people intensified.
Iranian airports security chief Nabiollah Heidari told ILNA news agency that "in the first 82 days of the current Iranian year (which began on March 21), 71 women were barred from boarding flights because they were improperly dressed."
"Their cases have been forwarded to the judiciary," he added.
Iranian women have to abide by an enforced Islamic dress code, and summer crackdowns on what the authorities perceive to be un-Islamic attire are common.
Women are often warned about wearing body-hugging short coats and flimsy headscarves in defiance of the Islamic republic's sharia-based law, which stipulates modest dress.
Every post-pubescent woman in Iran is required to cover her hair and bodily contours in public, but young women are often seen with their hair only half covered by a scarf.
The punishment for women flouting the strict dress code is a fine of up to 13 million rials (1,300 dollars).
In recent weeks the dress code has been more strictly enforced, with police confiscating cars whose drivers are deemed to be harassing women, according to local media that did not clarify what amounts to harassment.
The reports say the crackdown has become a major issue for Iran's youth, with police or hardline militiamen stopping luxury cars to question boys and girls on board about their relationship.
Heidari also said that warnings were issued to 87,714 women during these 82 days for not covering their hair properly, while 3,506 such women gave "commitments" that they would follow the Islamic dress code.
On Sunday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he "strongly" opposed the ongoing crackdown.
"It is impossible for such actions to be successful," he said in an interview on state television.
"The government is not interfering in this. We consider it is insulting to ask a boy and girl about their relationship. Nobody has the right to ask people such a question."
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