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Iranian press review: Taking off headscarf is akin to 'prostitution', says Mashhad imam

Meanwhile, soldiers deployed in Kurdish region, daily paper banned to contain protests, and musicians refuse to record song for national football team
A woman walks without a headscarf in the Iranian capital Tehran, on 11 October 2022 (AFP)
A woman walks without a headscarf in the Iranian capital Tehran, on 11 October 2022 (AFP)

Principlists urge support for obligatory hijab

Ahmad Alam al-Hoda, the Friday prayer imam in Iran's second-largest city, Mashhad, has said that Iranian women without headscarves were prostitutes to the US, as principlist clerics increase pressure on the government to contain nationwide protests.

"Those who take off their scarves and remove the hijab to make the US happy should know that the US considers them nothing more than the prostitutes who took part in the 1953 coup," he said, in reference to the CIA coup that toppled Iran's democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh.

"How do you accept losing your chastity to make the US delighted," he was quoted by local media as saying.

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Alam al-Hoda is the supreme leader's representative in the Khorasan Razavi province and the father-in-law of President Ebrahim Raisi.

His comments followed over 60 days of uninterrupted demonstrations that have rocked the country after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of Iran's "morality police". Amini, from the Kurdish city of Saqqez, was visiting Tehran when police arrested her for allegedly not following Islamic dress codes.

Alam al-Hoda's comments have caused anger among Iranians who have witnessed fierce clashes between the armed forces and protesters, which have killed at least 416 people.

Even people close to the establishment have criticised the supreme leader's representative, urging him not to add to people's pain.

"Mr Alam al-Hoda! It is not important how the US decadent politicians look at our women, even if they do not wear the hijab. What matters more is the look that people like you have," tweeted Mehdi Fazaeli, an official at the supreme leader office's publication house.

Ground forces deployed in Iran's Kurdistan

A conservative legislator, Mohammad Kothari, who is close to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), has revealed that ground forces were deployed in the Iranian Kurdish region following days of a deadly crackdown on unrest in Kurdish cities.

Kothari did not disclose if the forces belonged to Iran's official army Artesh, or the IRGC ground forces. 

It is the first time an official has declared publicly that army forces were used to crack down on protesters since the beginning of a wave of anti-establishment unrest in September.

"Ground forces were deployed in western regions to bring back security to the borders and help people in Kurdish city continue their lives," Jamaran News quoted him as saying.

On 15 November, Iranian authorities began a week-long deadly crackdown on protesters in the Kurdish cities of Mahabad, Javanroud, Bukan and Piranshahr, which had left at least 42 dead, according to rights groups.

Kothari claimed that the deployed forces had fought against the armed groups who wanted to separate the Kurdish region from Iran.

Daily shut down for covering protests

Iran's judiciary has intensified its media control to contain anti-government protests by banning the publication of a newspaper and handing down a prison sentence to a journalist, local media reported.

On Monday, the economic daily Jahan-e Sanat was shut down by the judiciary after publishing an opinion piece about the death of a 10-year-old boy in the western city of Izeh and criticising the riot police.

Last week, a first court order was also handed down to journalist Seyyed Mostafa Jafari, who had been covering the demonstrations.

A provincial branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Court in the city of Qazvin sentenced Jafari to a one-month ban from journalism work and a six-month travel ban.

In another court, Jafari was also sentenced to a two-year prison term and a two-year journalism ban. However, it is not yet clear which of these punishments will be implemented.

Since the beginning of the protests in Iran in September, 51 journalists have been arrested and are awaiting trial. 

Artists refuse song for national football team

Musicians have rejected the establishment's request to record a song for Iran's national football team's participation in the finals of the Fifa World Cup in Qatar.

This is the sixth time that Iran's national team has qualified for the tournament. However, the football-loving nation has shown little interest in this year's games, due to a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.

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In the absence of support from Iranians, the Arman Meli daily reported that the country's football federation has struggled to find a singer for the national team's song.

According to the daily, a well-known pop singer, Mohsen Chavoshi, rejected the authorities' request for his song Khalij-e Fars, meaning The Persian Gulf, to be used as the team's official song in Qatar.

"Football, and things around it, is the only thing that has no importance to me these days," Chavoshi was quoted as saying.

Mohammad Motamedi is another singer who responded negatively to the authorities' invitations, saying: "I can't open my mouth to speak, let alone sing a song."

Finally, it was announced that pop singer Reza Yazdani sang a song for the national team titled "Iran is the sound of my breaths".

However, Yazdani immediately denied the claims and said the song was produced by the private sector in August, before the demonstrations started in Iran.

"I strongly rejected the claims that the national football federation commissioned this song," he said.

*Iranian press review is a digest of news reports not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye.

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