A shocking number of acid attacks on women in Iran have been linked to extremists who object to women being “badly veiled”
There have been four reported acid attacks on women in the history city of Isfahan, according to reports from Al Alarabiya newspaper.
The reported attacks led to talk on social media which highlighted that there could have been up to 13 other attacks on women who were deemed not to be wearing appropriate clothing.
Isfahan is 450 km south of Tehran and known for its carpets, historic monuments and giant square which is second only to Tiannamen square in Beijing.
General Hossein Ashtari, Iran’s Deputy Police Commander was quoted by Iran’s official news agency IRNA as saying “suspects have been arrested and the attacks ongoing.” However the police declined to comment.
Women have been warned not to leave car windows open to prevent being victims of further attacks by Islamic extremists.
Such incidents have risen in recent years in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, with the abusers claiming they punished women for “sullying” their family “honour” by committing “indecent” behaviour.
Under Islamic law in force in Iran since the 1979 revolution, women must wear loose clothing, known as hijab, that covers the head and neck.
However there has been a trend in recent years for women, particularly younger women, to wear a thin veil over their hair and tight clothing or coats which reach mid thigh rather than the full traditional chador which covers the whole body. The new direction in attire for women has been denounced by conservatives as “bad hijab”.
A senior cleric of Isfahan has condemned the attacks.
“Such an act under any pretext is reprehensible,” Hojatoleslam Mohammad Taghi Rahbar, a Friday prayers leader, told the ISNA news agency.
“Even if a woman goes out into the street in the worst way, no one has the right to do such a thing,” he said.
A fearful resident of the city was quoted by ISNA as saying: “I roll the windows closed and I panic every time I hear the sound of a motorcycle approaching.”
Iranian MPs have written to President Hassan Rowhani in recent months to demand that police better enforce wearing of the veil.
It follows the arrest and detention of British-Iranian woman Ghoncheh Ghavami who fell foul of the Iranian police when she tried to attend a volleyball match in Tehran.
She has been detained in the Iranian capital’s Evin jail for over 108 days and has been on hunger strike in protest at her detention and being denied visitors.
The 25-year-old was in the country to work for a charity teaching literacy to street children and to visit relatives when she was arrested.