TEHRAN, Iran – Iran’s parliament and judiciary are reviewing a law requiring women to cover their heads that has sparked more than two months of deadly protests, the attorney general said.
The demonstrations began after Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian woman of Kurdish origin, died in custody on September 16 following her arrest by Iran’s morality police for allegedly violating the dress code.
The protesters burned their head coverings and shouted anti-government slogans. After Amini’s death, more and more women do not wear the hijab, especially in the fashionable north of Tehran.
Wearing the hijab became compulsory for all women in Iran in April 1983, four years after the 1979 revolution that overthrew the US-backed monarchy.
“Both parliament and the judiciary are working” on whether the law needs changes, Mohammad Jafar Montazeri said in the holy city of Qom.
Quoted on Friday by the ISNA agency, he did not specify what could be changed in the law.
The review team met on Wednesday with the parliamentary culture committee “and will see the results in a week or two”, the attorney general said.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said on Saturday that Iran’s republican and Islamic foundations were constitutionally strengthened.
“But there are methods of applying the constitution that can be flexible,” he said in televised comments.
After the hijab law became mandatory, as dress codes changed, it became common to see women in skinny jeans and loose, colorful headscarves.
But in July of this year, Raizi, an ultraconservative, called for the mobilization of “all state institutions to implement the headscarf law.”
However, many women continued to break the rules.
Iran accuses its archenemy the United States and its allies, including Britain, Israel and Kurdish groups based outside the country, of fueling the street violence the government calls “riots.”
A general in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps this week said for the first time that more than 300 people had lost their lives in the unrest since Amini’s death.
Iran’s top security body, the Supreme National Security Council, said on Saturday that the death toll in the protests “exceeds 200”.
Cited by state news agency IRNA, it said the figure included security officials, civilians, armed separatists and “rebels”.
Oslo-based NGO Iran Human Rights said on Tuesday that at least 448 people had been “killed by security forces in the ongoing national protests”.
UN human rights chief Volker Turk said last week that 14,000 people, including children, had been arrested in the crackdown on the protest.