Iranian regime increases pressure on dissident women

One more twist. In Iran, the conservative government now wants to use facial recognition in public places to identify women violating the rules of dress. Since President Ebrahim Raïsi came to power in August 2021, the authorities have taken a more rigorous turn, imposing new measures to control the population. And especially women. If the amplitude of the movements daring to demonstrate their opposition to this authoritarian turn is limited, some Iranian women nevertheless pay very dearly for their commitment, with prison sentences, torture or even death sentences. “The decision to use facial recognition to control women’s dress illustrates the fear of the Islamic Republic in the face of popular demonstrations and the possibility of a new revolution”, analyzes Fariba Parsa, non-resident researcher at the Middle East Institute in Washington.

Read also

In Iran, the massive arts of cultural resistance

Fears that the Conservative government intends to anticipate by suppressing all dissent. On Monday, an official report quoted by the Iranian news agency Fars revealed that more than 300 people were arrested for having campaigned against the compulsory wearing of the veil in the country, without specifying the date or the place of these arrests. Earlier this year, a wave of disobedience was led by women who took off their veils on social media. Their objective: to protest against the directive of July 5 which tightens the obligation to wear the hijab, in force since the Islamic revolution of 1979, with regard to all women, whatever their religion. “For the past 44 years, the Islamic Republic has failed to force all women to follow the guidelines of the Islamic dress code,” recalls Fariba Parsa. If Iranian women had to go out with their head veiled and their body covered with a loose garment of varying length from the age of 9, they are now required to wear a veil covering not only their hair, but also their neck and shoulders. shoulders.

Continuing its momentum, the regime has also introduced a “national day of hijab and chastity” set for July 12 and celebrated for the first time this year in the context of reinforced measures and controls relating to the application Islamic laws. Women civil servants could thus be fired if their profile photos on social networks are found to be non-compliant with Sharia, while Iranian women who publish photos of themselves without hijab can be deprived of certain social rights for a period of 6 months. at one year. Entry into public institutions may even be refused if they do not comply with the new rules of dress, as is the case in the city of Mashhad which recently prohibited dissident women from accessing the metro. In charge of respecting these laws, the morality police seem to have regained the hair of the beast, showing themselves to be more active but also more violent, according to the American media Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, funded by Congress. Separate incidents have included kidnappings of women, allegations of torture in detention and forced confessions.

Technological means

Author and artist Sepideh Rashno appeared on state television at the end of July, veiled and weakened, to publicly apologize for the incident for which she had been arrested in mid-June. Not wearing her veil on a public bus, she was then attacked by another passenger who filmed the scene while threatening to send the video to the Revolutionary Guards. The sequence had made the rounds of social networks, probably facilitating the arrest of the young woman, provisionally released on bail at the end of August. In announcing the use of facial recognition in an interview last week, Mohammad Saleh Hashemi Golpayegani, secretary of the Organization for the Promotion of Virtue and the Suppression of Vice, acknowledged the existence of the technology for the first time. within Iranian surveillance systems. It would actually go back further. Already in 2020, the London-based organization Minority Rights Group International claimed that “the Iranian government uses facial recognition technology to identify and arrest protesters and political dissidents, and collecting biometric data could empower it to do it even more effectively. Indeed, Iran began issuing biometric identity cards in 2015 with a chip containing the retinal scanner, fingerprints and facial images of the individual concerned.

A mass control that cannot be ignored, despite the concessions made to the fairer sex under international pressure, such as the possibility of attending a football match for the first time at the end of last August. In the sights of the regime, not only the

dissidents, but also ethnic minorities or marginalized communities such as LGBTQ+, victims of discrimination and criminalized in Iran. On Monday, human rights organizations revealed the death sentence, handed down last week in the city of Urmia, of two gay men and activists from the LGBTQ+ community, Zahra Sedighi Hamedani, 31, and Elham Chubdar , 24, for “corruption on earth”. A third defendant awaits her verdict. Known on social networks as Sareh, another activist, Sedighi Hamedani, who spoke in particular in a BBC documentary, was arrested at the end of October when she tried to cross the border. with Turkey. His fate remains unclear to this day.

One more twist. In Iran, the conservative government now wants to use facial recognition in public places to identify women violating the rules of dress. Since President Ebrahim Raïssi came to power in August 2021, the authorities have taken a more rigorous turn, imposing new measures to control the…

Leave a Comment