Islamic headscarf: Iran’s promotional video divides opinion

Storyboard featuring a woman in a loose headscarf, a male shopkeeper, and a woman in a chador Image copyright BBC Monitoring
Image caption An “inappropriately dressed” woman is encouraged to switch attire

As part of Hijab week in Iran, a video endorsed by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps promoting the Islamic headscarf has created a social media stir.

In the clip, produced by the Basij Cyberspace organisation, an “inappropriately dressed” young woman enters a shop that sells fake jewellery.

The woman, who is also the film’s narrator, says the male shopkeeper gives her “a peculiar look and a meaningful smile”.

When she asks about real jewellery, he tells her she needs to go to a store where jewellery is kept “behind seven doors and locked in seven safes”.

He also tells her anything that is valuable is “hard to access and commands special respect”, while appearing to lean low and stare at her.

When a woman enters wearing a full-body veil, the chador, the man stands up straight and bows his head.

The clip ends with the first woman – now dressed in a chador – saying: “I realised I had to make a change. I understand the difference between fake and genuine jewellery.”

It has been viewed on Twitter 114,000 times since posted, and has inspired some people to share their views.

Responses to the animation have been mixed. One woman, apparently pro-establishment, felt it did not help promote the hijab at all and disliked being compared to jewellery, tweeting: “I’m a human being. Don’t downgrade us to goods,”

A man who claimed to be a shopkeeper said he was more vigilant with chador wearers as they could sneak things under their clothes.

Another woman tells the “absolute jewels” to “leave us fakes alone”, implying that she does not like being told to wear the full-length veil.

Some have lamented that the animation is “ridiculous” and a waste of mobile data.

In Iran, the law requires women to wear modest “Islamic” clothing. In practice, this means women must wear a chador, a full-body cloak, or a headscarf and a manteau (overcoat) that covers their arms.

In 2018, there were posters in cities and towns comparing unveiled women to unwrapped candy and lollipops attracting unwanted attention from flies.

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