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Saturday, 18 August, 2001, 16:23 GMT 17:23 UK
Iran police plan moral crusade
Iranian street
Shops and shoppers have been warned
The Iranian authorities are planning a crackdown on loose morals on the streets, targeting shop keepers who play loud western music and cafe owners who serve women wearing heavy make-up.

In an official statement, police warned shop owners that their stores would be shut down during a campaign starting on Sunday if they were found to be displaying "the signs and symbols of depravation".


Regarding the spread of decadent western culture in society, police have seriously risen up against the propagators of corruption

Iranian police statement
The "symbols" to be singled out by the police include the display of lingerie and naked mannequins in shop windows as well as the sale of objects featuring western stars or women not fully covered.

The police announcement follows a series of recent public floggings, mostly of young men accused of drinking alcohol or making sexual advances.

Monkeys and mannequins

A ban on the sale of dogs or monkeys, which have become increasingly popular as pets in parts of Iran, is to be enforced during the police campaign.

Restaurant and cafe owners have also been warned of trouble if they are discovered serving women who are not adhering to the strict Islamic dress code or are wearing heavy make-up.

Western music is banned in Iran
Not for sale
And the police will be listening carefully to the tunes tinkling in shopping malls, switching off illegal western music and music that can be heard outside.

"Regarding the spread of decadent western culture in society, police have seriously risen up against the propagators of corruption," said the statement carried by the official INRA news agency.

Backlash

Correspondents say the campaign is being seen as part of a hardline backlash against the liberal policies of President Mohammad Khatami.

Mr Khatami was first elected to the presidency in 1997, and since entering office he has tried to implement an agenda to liberalise Iranian society.

There is reportedly growing public unease in Iran over the way the conservative judiciary is responding to this gradual liberalisation of public life.

A sharp rise in public executions has attracted demonstrations, and last week police used tear gas to break up a protest at a public hanging.

The flogging of 200 youths has also sparked a row.

A leading Iranian conservative, Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi, has said the public floggings should be stopped if they reflect badly on the Islamic state and Islam.

See also:

15 Aug 01 | Middle East
Row over public floggings in Iran
23 Jul 01 | Middle East
Iranian minister condemns floggings
12 Jul 01 | Middle East
Iranian adulteress stoned to death
11 Jun 01 | Middle East
Poll boosts Khatami reform bid
20 Dec 00 | Country profiles
Country profile: Iran
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