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Moderate Iranian presidential candidate criticizes headscarf policy

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Moderate Iranian presidential candidate Masoud Pezeshkian has cautiously criticized the repressive measures used to enforce Iran’s headscarf laws.

Today, women are punished because their clothing does not comply with regulations, the former health minister said in an interview published Tuesday in the Hammihan newspaper.

“Was it our fault that we didn’t raise them properly, or is that their fault? We are to blame and have to solve the problem ourselves.”

More and more Iranian women are now deliberately ignoring the strict dress code, something that religious hardliners are trying to combat.

A new law providing for draconian penalties has been passed by parliament, but has not yet entered into force. Police stepped up their crackdown on violations in April.

Pezeshkian said you can’t ignore people’s rights and expect them to stay quiet. “When people’s rights are ignored, they protest. If we understand this and implement it in society, we can solve the problems.”

Iran’s Guardian Council, a powerful oversight body, approved the list of presidential candidates on Sunday. Six politicians are now allowed to participate in the elections on June 28.

Among conservatives, parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf and Saeed Jalili, a former chief negotiator in the nuclear talks, are considered the leading candidates.

The elections follow the death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash on May 19.

Many people in Iran are disillusioned by the political repression, economic crisis and failed reform efforts of recent decades.

In the fall of 2022, the death of the young Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini sparked nationwide protests against the strict Islamic rule system. Turnout in this year’s parliamentary elections reached a record low of around 40%.

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