The Iranian government has announced a new program to teach toddlers in kindergarten about chastity and how to wear a hijab (the veil worn by Muslim women). In their announcement, officials explained that it is part of a new move to instill Islamic teachings into the younger generation.
Although according to mainstream Islamic practice, girls are not required to wear a hijab before the age of puberty, Morteza Tamadon, governor of Tehran, recently spoke of the new plan to popularize the importance of chastity and hijabs among young Iranians. He recommended “starting in kindergartens before reaching those in higher education. We cannot expect to see hijab and chastity exist in society without proper cultural work,” he said. “Our goal in the social transformation plan devised by the government is institutionalizing chastity and hijab as a natural [demand] in society.”
In the process of implementing the new law, the welfare office in the Iranian city of Qom has let it be known that they have begun training 400 experts in hijab and chastity who will be sent to kindergartens in the city.
The 1,530 kindergartens under the jurisdiction of the north-eastern Khorasan Razavi province have held “chastity and hijab exhibitions” as a way of educating the young children about the topics. Welfare officer Tahereh Bakhtiyari said, “Research has found that indirect methods have more effect on kids. Using art expression is one of these methods.”
Hojatoleslam Mehdi Bayati, director of the Tahoura Institute, announced that the institute was in the process of developing a course in chastity, shame and modesty. The program is aimed at educating the general public as well as Iran’s volunteer militia known as the Basji, whose members graduate to become the morality police and the Revolutionary Guards.
During the warm spring and summer months Iran’s morality police are very busy searching the streets for women not dressed according to strict Islamic tradition. With the growing problem of “inappropriately dressed women,” Islamist rulers in Iran have recently ordered stricter enforcement measures from the Iranian Moral Police and the Revolutionary Guards.
Women seen with improper head coverings or wearing “vulgar” dress, are arrested and hauled off in police vans. According to Iranian police Chief Ismael Ahmadi Moqadam, Iran now wants to intensify its struggle against women who it believes dress in an un-Islamic way.
In a northern province of Iran “modesty squads” instituted a new initiative to give positive reinforcement to women dress modestly during the hot summer months. The squad distributed roses to all those whom they felt dressed in a traditional Islamic fashion, a tactic scorned upon by many.
Alireza Nourizadeh, director of the Center for Arab & Iranian Studies in London, asked, “Just who is the Iranian government to intervene and distinguish between ‘good and bad’ women?”