Iranian President Hassan Rowhani has reignited the debate over the country’s police force’s role in enforcing religious beliefs and values, UK daily The Guardian reported.
Rowhani said police had no right to enforce the punishment of women for wearing what he referred to as a ‘bad hijab’ - where women did not make an effort deemed adeqaute enough to cover their hair or bodies, as temperatures start to soar to in excess of 40C.
The president first raised the issue in 2013 when he said thousands would be arrested in the summer by the morality police for not adhering to the strict dress code that forbids women from wearing clothing that reveals their body or its shape the report added.
In 2014 Rowhani said “you can’t send people to heaven by the whip”, and he said Iranians should not be forced into “good” behavior.
Speaking at an assembly of Iranian police in April Rowhani said: “The police’s job is not to enforce Islam, and furthermore, none among them can claim that their actions are sanctioned by God or the prophet [Mohammad].”
But his views are not shared by all in power in the Islamic Republic.
Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, the chairman of the Assembly of Experts, and the clerical body that chooses the supreme leader, said: “The executive branch cannot deny Islam - it must uphold it. If it denies Islam, Islam will deny it in turn.”
And senior Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi, told another group of police leaders that Rowhani had given “the green light for corrupt elements to introduce all manner of filth into society without any repercussion or response from the police.”
President Rowhani received widespread support from the younger members of the Iranian population – including the likes of Maryam, an Iranian citizen speaking at the Tandis luxury shopping center in North Tehran.
She said Rowhani’s campaign was a necessity for society.
She added: “He has to stick up for our rights and not allow these brutes with guns and badges insult us and have their way with us.”
As the intense summer heat continues, so does the debate – many clerics believe that the Iranian constitution comes “straight from Islamic criteria, and that the idea the police should not enforce Islam precluded the concept of enjoining the good and forbidding the evil in society, a notion found in the Quran.”