Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has reportedly issued a decree that female characters in cartoons must wear a hijab, the Islamic head covering that Iranian women are persecuted for refusing to wear.
According to the Saudi outlet Al-Arabiya on Monday, Khamenei was holding a virtual forum on the encrypted messaging platform Telegram when someone asked if the hijab, made mandatory for women in Iran after the 1979 Islamic revolution, should also be considered mandatory for “characters in animated films.”
“Although wearing hijab in such a hypothetical situation is not required per se, observing hijab in animation is required due to the consequences of not wearing hijab,” Khamenei replied rather confusingly since everything after the comma contradicts everything he said before the comma.
Al-Arabiya noted that Iranian women are harassed by everyone from the “morality police,” to regular law enforcement, to self-appointed moral vigilantes for failing to wear hijabs, or even for wearing one “badly.” Iranian women of all ages are nevertheless protesting the hijab with increasing boldness.
Iranian state media sources cited by Al-Arabiya said Khamenei issued a fatwa, or religious order, to compel animated characters to wear hijabs. The Jerusalem Post noted such orders have little power under Iran’s legal system and, for that matter, the hijab “law” is not written down, but various enforcement agencies and vigilantes are happy to use violence against women to make them obey.
The New Arab said it was “unclear” how Khamenei’s order would be enforced, but observed “Tehran has imposed strict censorship laws on the country’s film agency,” so cartoons depicting female characters who are not properly masked and hooded might simply be banned from theaters.