Iran police shut clothes shops, hairdressers

Police closed 32 clothes shops and hairdressers and stopped cars and pedestrians in the street in an intensified crackdown on women who do not abide by Iran's strict Islamic dress code and on men who take up fashions seen as too Western, Iranian media reported Monday. The sweep, which was launched Saturday in some neighborhoods of Teheran, is part of an annual campaign aimed at enforcing dress codes, which require women to wear long loose robes or coats and cover their hair in public. Many women, particularly in Teheran, push the boundaries of the code, wearing short, colorful coats that show the shape of the body and letting their headscarves slip to show much of their hair. In past years, the government of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has launched the sweeps at the start of summer, when warmer temperatures bring more people into the streets of the capital and women dress lighter. During the crackdown, police stop women in the streets, issuing them warnings or even arresting them if their garb is deemed unsuitable. Men are also targeted for having long hair and other styles deemed too Western. But the shutting of shops appeared to be a new step, aimed at stopping the selling of shorter coats and lighter headscarves. The pro-reform daily Kargozaran reported Monday that police were questioning women and men where they bought their clothes or had their hair done, then targeting the shops.