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"Iran must stop attacking women" say Ahwazi feminists

Ahwazi Arab feminists have condemned the Iranian regime's bullying tactics over the enforcement of strict dress codes on women.

Many Iranian women associate the hejab (Islamic headscarf) with an "alien" Arabic culture, but Ahwazi Arab women's rights activists insist that no woman should be compelled by the government to wear it. They have also hit out against the Iranian regime's increased restrictions on women's clothing. The Iranian airport police are preventing women from travelling on airlines if they are dressed in an "un-Islamic" fashion and have issued over 17,000 official warnings to Iranian women and convicted a further 80. This month, the Iranian police launched an extensive campaign against violations of the uniforms women are forced to wear.

The regime has been ruthless against Ahwazi Arab women deemed to be "poorly covered". According to reports received by the British Ahwazi Friendship Society (BAFS), a woman in the Kut-abdulla district of Ahwaz City was harassed by police and her hair was cut off because her fringe was showing. In response, the woman's family fought with the police. Some Ahwazi activists complain that ethnic minorities face worse treatment because they are less able to raise their voice against the authorities. News on the regime's brutal treatment of women tends to concentrate on women in Tehran.

A London-based Ahwazi women's rights activist said: "I am wearing Hijab because I have chosen to do it, even being in a free society such as the UK, but I strongly condemn the Iranian plan to implement their interpretation of Islamic obligations. Women should have a choice to chose, not forced to obey. This kind of action will tarnish Islam, this government should understand that Ahwazi women consider Hejab as a part of their Arab culture, so they don't need to teach us how to cover ourselves."