By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL; photos by Amin Jalali, Islamic Republic News Agency
Skin-tight leggings popular among Iranian women have sparked an uproar in the Islamic republic's parliament, where the interior minister was dressed down over the female population's fashion choices.
Iranian news agencies reported
that Motahari caused a commotion during the hearing when he used large monitors to display photographs of women wearing leggings.
Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli received a warning from parliamentarians at a June 24 hearing amid accusations that he is not doing enough to stop women from wearing the elastic leggings known as "supports" in Iran.
Fazli was summoned to the conservative-dominated parliament to answer questions regarding the enforcement of Iran's obligatory Islamic dress code, which requires women to cover their hair and bodies.
Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli
Lawmakers questioned Fazli specifically about the form-revealing leggings, which hard-liners have criticized as a symbol of decadent Western culture.
"Why is the Interior Ministry indifferent to the phenomenon of women who wear supports in Tehran and other cities?" lawmakers asked the official.
Fazli was also asked why a "small budget" designated for enforcing the dress code had been eliminated.
He responded by saying that the Interior Ministry is just one of 22 entities responsible for enforcing a law requiring women to wear the Islamic hijab, which became obligatory following the 1979 revolution and the creation of the Islamic republic.
During the past three decades, the clerical establishment has used force and cultural measures to compel many women to wear the hijab.
Women watching the debate from Parliament viewing section
'National Security Issue'
Fazli said his ministry is actively working on the issue, which he said could not be solved in the short term. Budgetary funds have been allocated to promote the hijab, he added.
The interior ministry has taken several measures to encourage the Islamic dress code, including the creation of nongovernmental organizations and dress-code supervision at department stores, airports and student dormitories, Fazli said
Iranian media reported that the official did not manage to convince lawmakers, who proceeded to issue him a warning -- or a "yellow card" in soccer parlance.
Lawmaker Ali Motahari said women who wear leggings should not be allowed into official buildings.
Motahari claimed that a majority of Iranian women have accepted the hijab but that there are "rare" exceptions that threaten the foundation of families.
"It is the government's duty to act against clear sins. The government should prevent support clothing from being promoted," Motahari was quoted as saying by the semi-official news agency ISNA.
Iranian news agencies reported that Motahari caused a commotion during the hearing when he used large monitors to display photographs of women wearing leggings.
Motahari reportedly reacted by saying that lawmakers appeared to enjoy viewing the pictures.
Commenting on the debate in the parliament, a Tehran-based woman wrote sarcastically on Facebook that leggings are becoming a "national security issue" in the Islamic republic.
"Forget the nuclear issue, poverty and inflation, and the advances of ISIL [the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant]. Support pants are the priority for our lawmakers."
Copyright (c) 2014 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
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