The new police chief of the Iranian city of Esfahan says it is a crime for women to cycle or roller-skate in public, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports. The two were among a range of women's activities deemed criminal by Hassan Karami in an announcement on October 18.
Iranian women's cycling team
Further criminal activities include singing near Esfahan's
famous Khajoo Bridge and playing volleyball in public. Karami also said that it
is a crime for either sex to play cards in public parks.
Karami said police will "severely prosecute" offenders. He added that the number of police stations and patrols in Esfahan should be increased in order to combat crime in the city.
Tehran-based lawyer Ahmad Bashiri told Radio Farda on October 19 that for an act to be considered a crime, there must be a defined punishment under the law, so that the crime can be prosecuted.
"Singing is not in itself a crime," Bashiri said. "But if it inconveniences the public, or if the song contains obscene words, then it can be considered a crime."
By contrast, playing cards or gambling in public is considered a crime under Iranian law, Bashiri added.
A woman skating in Tehran (file photo)
Whether women should be permitted to ride bicycles has been a controversial
issue in Iran for a long time. One month ago, Tehran Friday Prayers leader Ahmad
Khatami said he had received "worrying news" about women riding bicycles on the
streets of Tehran. Following his statement, Tehran police began confronting
Bashiri said that when someone says it is a crime for a woman to ride a bicycle, he should explain the legal basis for that statement. The police have no right to make arbitrary decisions based on their own interpretation of the law, Bashiri claimed.
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