A vast number of Iranian women are defying the age-old sexist Iranian law of wearing hijab while driving. The move has sparked nationwide controversy and upset hardliners. According to the Guardian, Iran’s moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, has opposed a crackdown on women who don’t wear the hijab, saying that people’s private spaces need to be respected.
Muslim Basketball Players Will Soon Be Allowed to Wear Hijabs
Although opposed from the start, wearing a hijab has been an integral policy of the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution.
Iranian women driving with their headscarves resting on their shoulders has become a common sight. With rising temperatures in summer, the clashes between women and Iran’s morality police have also increased. Women are often fined and sometimes their vehicles are temporarily seized, but they continue to resist.
Rouhani said explicitly that the police’s job is not to administer Islam. In 2015, “The police can’t do something and say I’m doing this because God said so. That’s not a police [officer]’s business.”
Those in support of women's rights believe that private spaces include the inside of a car, but the judicial authorities and the police have continued to oppose the belief. The debate over whether or not the car can be categorized as a private space has led to clashing viewpoints.
“The invisible part of the car, such as the trunk, is a private space, but this does not apply to the visible parts of the car,” Hadi Sadeghi, the deputy head of Iran’s judiciary chief, said last week, the Guardian reported.
Saeed Montazer al-Mahdi, a spokesperson for the Iranian police, told the Guardian. “What is visible to the public eye is not private space and norms and the rules should be respected within cars.”
Yahya Kamalpour, a member of the Iranian parliament, said: “The space within people’s cars is a private space and the police has no right to enter that space without a judicial order.”
Abolfazl Najafi Tehrani, a Tehran-based cleric, also supported the women's choice of not wearing a hijab while driving,“People’s cars, like people’s houses, are their property and a private space and infringing upon this space will disturb people’s moral security and will harm women’s trust with the police," Tehrani tweeted.