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Iran attorney general to review country's stance on mandatory hijab

The move by one of Iran's highest legal authorities comes as Tehran struggles to contain over two months of unrest
Iranians walk down a street in the capital Tehran on 13 August 2022 (AFP)

Iran's attorney general has announced that the parliament and the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution will review the country's stance on mandatory hijabs and release a report within two weeks. 

In a speech in the religious city of Qom on Friday, Mohammad Javad Montazeri stressed that any decision on the hijab issue should be based on a "planned approach".

Last week, the head of the Iranian president's communication team told state news agency IRNA that requests from all quarters of society for the relaxation of the hijab rules have been passed on to authorities.

Montazeri's remarks suggest that authorities are likely looking for ways to defuse protests that have rocked the country for over two months.

Since September, Iranian authorities have sought to suppress the nationwide anti-government protests sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody after she was arrested for allegedly wearing her headscarf "inappropriately".

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Earlier this week, an Iranian general said that over 300 people had been killed since the beginning of the demonstrations, a number which he said included dozens of security force members. Rights groups say the figure of protesters killed is much higher.

The UN's top human rights body voted in late November to set up an independent investigation into Iran's deadly repression of protests following Amini's death.

The motion presented to the UN Human Rights Council passed with 25 in favour, six against, and 16 abstentions.

Volker Turk, the UNHCR commissioner, had earlier demanded that Iran end its "disproportionate" use of force in quashing protests.

However, Iran's representative at the UN meeting, Khadijeh Karimi, accused western states of using the rights body to target Iran, a move she called "appalling and disgraceful".

Leaked survey

leaked opinion survey conducted by the Ministry of Interior on Saturday showed that 51 percent of people surveyed believed that the hijab should be optional, while 37 percent thought that it should be mandatory.

The internal survey also found that security forces were struggling with morale, and the disparate nature of the protests had resulted in resources being severely stretched, creating a sense of disorganisation.

The protests in Iran have been at their most intense in the areas where the majority of Iran's 10 million Kurds live, in the north of the country bordering Iraq.

Iranian authorities last month stepped up the crackdown on protests in Iran's Kurdish regions, deploying troops troops and killing at least four demonstrators.

Tehran has blamed the ongoing demonstration on outside forces, particularly exiled Kurdish groups.

In the last few weeks, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has launched several missile and drone strikes targeting Iranian-Kurdish opposition groups in northern Iraq.

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